Feeds

Tree-hugging Chinese throttle rare earth production

Think of the planet, man…

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
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.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.