Mining.com recently reported that China is increasing its attempts to restrict illegal mining and export of rare earths. To do this, it is setting up a system to certify the origin of these important materials. It is reported that illegal mining and exports have been a factor in falling prices of the past year, as this material has been flooding the international market.
According to vice minister of industry and information technology Xin Guobin, the new “tracing system” will use special rare earth invoices and other information like export data to crack down on illegal miners, state-owned China Radio International reported.
Some estimates put illegal exports via Vietnam and Hong Kong as high as 40,000 tonnes. Amongst Beijing’s concerns are not only the financial losses from smuggling, but also the environmental and health and safety impact of unregulated mining. Modernising China’s industry is part of bringing pollution under control, but will also have the effect of consolidating and regulating the mining sector.
The Chinese government is set to introduce new environmental regulations, including green export certificates and new taxes that are based on the value of the minerals, rather than on volume as is the case at present, Reuters reports.
Recent figures disclosed by the Association of China Rare Earth Industry, show that about 90% of the nation’s rare earth producers are currently operating at a loss, and many may not survive past this year.
It is interesting to note from the chart opposite that projected rare earth production from the rest of the world, excluding China, is estimated to increase as a proportion of the total worldwide annual production