Scrap Monster
Vulcan
Vulcan
Metal Recycling News June 07, 2011 07:43:43 AM

China's rare earth reserves may expire by 2025

Paul Ploumis
ScrapMonster Author
Relevant statistics show that China's rare earth reserves only remain 27 million tons, whose proportion in global reserves declined from over 70% previously to 30% currently

BEIJING (Scrap Monster): Relevant statistics show that China's rare earth reserves only remain 27 million tons, whose proportion in global reserves declined from over 70% previously to 30% currently. According to the existing production rate, the reserves of medium and heavy rare earth in China can be available for only 15 to 20 years.

Since 2005, China's rare earth output has exceeded 100,000 tons for 5 consecutive years and was up to 124,800 tons in 2008. Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology indicates that in 2008, global rare earth consumption was about 130,000 tons and in 2009, China's rare earth oxide output was 120,000 tons, accounting for 97% of global total.

In 2011 Q1, China's output volume of rare earth and rare earth products was 12,941 tons, increasing by 27.40% YOY, and the output value reached USD 710.49 million, ascending by 691.20% YOY. 

China is not the only country with rare earth resources, but it acts as a supplier of the majority of rare earth in the world at the expense of destroying its natural environment and consuming its own resources.

As a non-renewable mineral resource of strategic importance, rare earth is increasingly widely applied in new energy, new materials, energy saving and environmental protection, aerospace, electronic information and other fields. China is both the largest rare earth producer and the largest rare earth exporter.

In addition to disorderly smelting, exploitation and smuggling, backward technology is also a major reason for China's lack of pricing power. However, many foreign countries implement the conservation policy for rare earth resources.

Japan only applies 1/3 of imported rare earth in production and the rest is used as strategic reserves. 83% of Japan's rare earth is imported from China, while it is estimated by industry insiders that rare earth reserved in Japan is enough for 40 to 50 years. 

Meanwhile China has also initiated measures to protect its rare earth reserves, China now on will strictly control the export of rare earth metals, oxides, salts, rare earth ferroalloys and other primary products while strictly controlling the total volume of rare earth exploited and produced. Besides, restriction in terms of exploitation, production, consumption and export will be taken synchronously. 

Targeted at standardized exploitation of China's rare earth resources, the country’s move proposes to implement stringent protective exploitation policies and ecological environment protection standards, substantially raise the collection standard of the rare earth resource tax, strictly control export of primary products, establish strategic reserves of rare earth, and carry out specific rectification of rare earth. 

 

SM Newsletter
Subscribe to SM mailing list and get updates to your inbox