China to step up crackdown on rare earth sector: ministry (Reuters U.S. – January 4, 2019)

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China will step up efforts to eliminate illegal mining, production and smuggling of rare earth materials, while at the same time, encourage more high-end processing, the industry ministry said in new guidelines published on Friday.

China is responsible for more than 90 percent of the global supply of rare earth elements, a group of 17 metals used in high-tech and strategic sectors such as renewable energy and defense.

However, the country has spent the last decade trying to bring “order” to the sector by closing down illegal mines, restricting exports and domestic production. Small private firms have been shut down and control over the industry has been put in the hands of six state-owned mining groups.

Regulation and supervision in the industry had improved, but illegal mining and production continued to disrupt “market order” and damage the interests of legitimate enterprises, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a notice.

MIIT said it would step up efforts to prohibit illegal mining and recycling of rare earth materials, and ensure that unauthorized facilities are completely eliminated.

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