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China seeks sustainable rare earth development

06-21-2012 09:34 BJT

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China is planning to implement more rigorous oversight on its critical rare earth industry. The State Council has just released a new White Paper on the current state of the sector, along with related policies and regulations.

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Rare earth is a crucial component for much of the technology of the modern world. That means the materials have been in huge demand, but the rush to exploit this valuable resource has done a lot of damage to the environment. Mining and over-exploitation have left scars on mountainsides and left the land damaged and polluted.

Gao Yunhu, deputy director of Rare Earth Office of Ministry of Industry & IT, said, "To strengthen control on the industry, we need to solve the resources and environmental problems that occur during rare earth exploitation. Due to the rapid development in recent decades, we have consumed a large amount of resources during industrialization and that has brought on a series of environmental problems, especially in the rare earth sector."

The new White Paper is aiming to make a difference. At the press conference on Wednesday, the Chinese government outlined detailed plans to shake up the industry and shift it toward sustainable development. Since 2011, China has taken many measures to enhance industry management.

Su Bo, vice minister of Chinese Ministry of Industry & IT, said, "First, we have issued many policies and regulations, raised tax collection standards, implemented rare pollutants emission standards, and raised the thresholds for access to the industry. Second, we have carried out campaigns on rare earth production environment protection and fighting smuggling. Third, we have enhanced export management of rare earth. All these showed china’s strong sense of responsibility to itself and the world at large."

In recent months, China’s rare earth sector has come under global scrutiny, with the US, Japan and the EU suing China through the WTO for setting export quotas back in March.

In the White Paper, China pledges to give simultaneous consideration to the needs of both the domestic and overseas markets when setting rare earth production levels and export quotas. This is aimed at creating a balance between protecting the environment and promoting fair trade and international cooperation.

Reporter: "China only possesses 23 percent of global reserves but for a long time they’ve been meeting over 90 percent of world demand. That boom has been good for China, but it has come at the cost of the environment. The new White Paper shows the government is determined to push for a sustainable rare earth industry. But much more needs to be done to put them into practice."


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: CNTV.CN

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