China could be rare earth importer by 2014

By Ma Yujia
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 12, 2012
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China, as the world's biggest producer of rare earth metal, is likely to become an importer of this vital industrial ingredient by 2014 due to its continuous boosting of consumption in domestic high-tech industries, Reuters reported today.

China could be rare earth importer by 2014.[ File photo ]

China could be rare earth importer by 2014.[ File photo ]

China is curbing exports to redress the environmental damage done by decades of mining; however, China's demand for rare earth is growing rapidly.

China, which produces more than 90 percent of all global rare earth supplies, currently consumes 65 percent of total global output, compared to just 25 percent ten years ago.

“By as early as 2014 or 2015, China could be in a net import situation for certain rare earths,” said Mark Smith, CEO of Colorado-based miner Molycorp, which acquired China-based Neo Material Technologies to boost both its processing know-how and its presence in China.

According to analysts, China's coal sector offers a cautionary lesson when China, in its determination to feed its own steel and iron industry instead of just shipping the raw material overseas, turned into one of the biggest coal importers, having previously been the biggest exporter.

China denied a few days ago that it had sought political benefit or increased returns by manipulating the prices of rare earths.

Su Bo, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said China will continue to provide rare earths to the international market, but not at the expense of the environment.

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