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Meeting the Press
Cover Stories Series 2011> Outlining the 12th Five-Year Plan> Meeting the Press
UPDATED: March 13, 2011 NO. 11 MARCH 17, 2011
Stable Exports, Greater Imports

Rare earth policy

As the world's largest rare earth exporter, China accommodates more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth demand, though its reserves account for only one third of the world's total. Since China's rare earth resources are in less developed areas and China is inexperienced in mining and processing rare earth, the rare earth industry can be a problem for the environment.

Because we don't have safer, more effective ways to extract rare earth and the only way is soaking the earth in acidic solution, the land has become barren and cannot support forests or other vegetation. In this sense, rare earth mining has had a negative impact on the environment.

China faces huge environmental pressures. We hope other countries can understand our measures to reduce the quota for both domestic and overseas consumers. We are also, in accordance with the requirement of the State Council, completing industrial policies for rear earth mining. Relevant departments, including the National Development and Reform Committee, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce, are working together to enhance administration of rare earth. We also hope that other countries could exploit their own rare earth with environment-friendly technology.

At the current pace of rare earth use, it will not be long before the world's reserves are depleted. We hope to work with Japan and other countries to find alternative materials or new methods of mining rare earth.

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