February 11th, 2011 | Caijing China Sets Rare Earth Mining Zones to Tighten Regulation
China has recently laid out the first group of 11 regions for rare earth mining, highlighting its effort to strengthen regulation on the precious minerals.
China has recently laid out the first group of 11 regions for rare earth mining, highlighting its effort to strengthen regulation on the precious minerals, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The 11 mining blocks cover 2,534 square meters in Ganzhou, a city of South China’s Jiangxi Province, with an estimate of 760,000 tonnes of rare earth reserves, according to the Ministry of Land and Resources.
At the same time, the ministry also drawn up a national planning region for iron in south China’s Sichuan Province, covering more than 460 square kilometers of mining sections in Panzhihua and Baima.
Rare earths are among the most important minerals that need to be well protected, the ministry officials were quoted by Xinhua as saying. More than 90 percent of global production of rare earths comes from China, while the country only had one-third of global reserves.
Besides, the smuggling of rare earths and illegal exploration which damages environment have been the main headache of Chinese government.
Deforesting and wide excavation have left earth exposed to erosion of wind and water, while the erosion of soil and water will eventually destroy the farmland. What’s more, the emission of rare earth production also poses threat to environment. Taking the “pool leaching process” for example, 200 square meters of forest and grass would be destroyed for mining 1 tonne of rare earth, leaving 1,200 cubic meters of soil and water erosion each year.
China’s decision to set up national planning regions for rare earth is aimed at protecting not only the precious resources but also the environment, the ministry said.
Since the exploration of rare earths started in 1958, the rare earth supplies by China have grown rapidly, with exports having increased tenfold during the past 20 years.
Shanghai Securities News quoted a commerce department officer last October as saying that China only has 30 percent of global proven rare earth reserves. That compared with 43 percent 13 years ago. At current rate of production, China’s reserves could only support demand for the next 15 to 20 years.