BEIJING, Sept 6 China will halt production of
rare earths at three major mines, state media reported on
Tuesday, a move which could tighten supply in China, the top
exporter of the valuable minerals.
Li Guoqing, the director of the mining management bureau of
Ganzhou city in the eastern Jiangxi province, said on Monday
that three of eight major rare earth producing counties would
stop production by year-end, China's official English-language
It is unknown when production will resume, Li said,
according to the China Daily.
Ganzhou produces almost 40 percent of China's ionic rare
earths, the newspaper said, minerals used to manufacture
high-tech products such as electric batteries, wind turbines and
China, which produces about 97 percent of the world's
supplies of the 17 minerals, has cited resource depletion and
environmental degradation concerns as reasons for a nationwide
crackdown on its rare earths sector.
It has capped production at 93,800 tonnes and exports at
30,184 tonnes, saying it cannot sustain the sort of output
levels demanded by foreign customers.
Demand for rare earths is expected to double in the next
five years, but Chinese output growth is likely to be much
slower, and major importing countries have toyed with the idea
of taking legal action.
China's dominant role in global production has created
incentives for miners to flout rules, especially as global
demand surges, with illegal production and smuggling still
The World Trade Organization said in July that Chinese
restrictions on raw materials exports -- including a variety of
quotas, tariffs, permits and minimum prices -- were illegal.
Beijing appealed the decision, which was seen as a potential
precedent for a rare earths case at the WTO, but it remains
unclear whether Japan, the United States or the European Union
will take formal legal action.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; editing by Keiron Henderson)