China to further regulate rare earth exports

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China will further regulate rare earth exports and crack down on smuggling of rare earth minerals, Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said at a press conference Thursday.

The comment comes a day after China's State Council, or the Cabinet, said China will look to streamline its rare earth industry over the next five years.

China should accelerate industrial upgrading and technological innovation to protect the environment and save resources, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday.

The industry should maintain rational production and inventory control, make better use of domestic and overseas markets and resources, and seek active international cooperation so it develops in a healthy and sustainable way, according to the statement.

For that purpose, the nation will establish and improve the supervision framework of laws and rules that relate to the industry, impose stricter mining policies to protect the environment and resources, issue environmental protection standards and make reasonable plans for mining and exports.

China's policy on rare earth exports will be made in line with WTO rules, Yao said.

China is the world's largest rare earth producer and exporter, with 90 percent of the world's mined rare earth coming from the country, though its deposits account for one third of the world's total.

The MOC said last month China exported 35,000 tonnes of rare earth from January to November last year, up 14.5 percent from a year earlier.

Rare earth elements are crucial for the production of components used in a variety of high-tech products such as consumer electronics, but mining them can greatly damage the environment.

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