BEIJING, April 22 (Xinhua) — China is running short of 25 kinds of mineral resources, including 11 that are crucial to the country’s economy, said a senior official on Sunday.
The country will face a serious shortage of mineral resources by 2020 as it consumes an increasing amount of them to promote its industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization, Minister of Land and Resources Xu Shaoshi told Xinhua in an exclusive interview to mark the 43rd “Earth Day.”
The prediction was based on surveys of recoverable reserves of 45 kinds of major minerals, Xu said, adding that China will have to sharply increase imports of minerals in short supply to meet demand over the next 10 to 20 years.
Over the past 15 years, China registered double-digit growth in the consumption of mineral resources. More than half of the country’s petroleum, iron ore, refined aluminum, refined copper and leopoldite were imported, according to the minister.
“The country’s consumption [of mineral resources] has grown faster than its production, while the expansion of production has outpaced the exploration. That partly explains why there has been a shortage,” Xu said.
Last year, the State Council, or Cabinet, approved a ten-year plan for the country’s geological exploration which highlighted the need to secure its resource supply mainly by domestic production, the minister noted.
“We should also study how to conserve and fully utilise mineral resources,” he said.
The authorities are trying to establish a resource management system which includes evaluation indicators of quantity, quality and ecological environment, according to the minister.
The Chinese people are suffering much of the environmental burden caused by the overgrowth of resource consumption, though the country has achieved remarkable progress after three decades of exceptional economic growth.
Air pollution, water shortage and pollution, decreases in the acreage of arable land, and environmental pollution caused by excessive and disorderly mining of non-renewable resources have drawn much public attention and criticism over the years.
The “Earth Day” is an annual promotion of the Earth’s natural environment. It falls on Sunday this year.