Feeds

Tree-hugging Chinese throttle rare earth production

Think of the planet, man…

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Bad news for the technology supply chain – China has decided to cut back on its mining of the rare earth minerals essential to the production of a vast range of hi-tech kit.

Deputy IT minister, Su Bo, reportedly told an industry seminar in Xiamen that the decision was taken because China now wants to promote sustainability in its mining practices (cough, splutter).

However, in a week that saw the US agree to export 46 high-tech products to China to encourage a level playing field between the two countries, many will see the Chinese stance as anti-competitive and protectionist in the extreme.

The European Union, Japan and the US have already complained to the World Trade Organisation several times over China’s export restrictions on the materials.

The problem boils down to the fact that China has a 97 per cent global share of the rare earths, which are essential to the production of a range of tech kit from hard drives to LED, LCD and plasma displays.

Critics have argued that China is deliberately making exports of the materials scarce to drive up costs and force manufacturers to locate their production plants within its borders, closer to source.

China’s state-run CNTV reported that the authorities have suspended the issuing of new mining licenses and imposed production caps in a bid to cut down on large scale mining in the sector.

"We have never asked any company to set the price we want. Prices of over 97 per cent of our rare earth products are market oriented," Su is quoted as saying.

"Rational exploitation of rare earth should meet environmental standards, and follow a sustainable growth path, not large-scale mining activities. Improper exploitation will also undermine the value of rare earth."

Whether this latest tactic - playing the green card - will work as the WTO considers what action to take, remains to be seen.

However, the whole technology industry would certainly sleep a little better at night if some new deposits of rare earth minerals were found outside of China. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?