Now Available: Rare Earth Industry in China, 2011-2020

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Mon May 02 2016

China's rare earth resources are featured with rich natural resources, abundant types and wide distribution. Rare earth elements consist of 15 elements of the lanthanide series as well as scandium and yttrium, a total of 17 elements in the periodic table of elements. Rare earth elements can be divided into the light one, the medium one and the heavy one by their atomic weight, physical and chemical properties. Rare earth mines in Baotou, Inner Mongolia and Liangshan, Sichuan Province, mainly contain four kinds of light rare earth such as lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium and neodymium, which represents China's light rare earth. Rare earth mines in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province and Longyan, Fujian Province are the representatives of the medium and heavy rare earth.

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With the advantage of the low cost of China's rare earth mining such as lower labor costs and less environmental protection, Chinese enterprises have started the large-scale exploitation of rare earth and export since the 1990s. Therefore, China's cheap rare earth occupied the global market, and most countries in the world stopped the exploitation of rare earth. China's reserves of rare earth once accounted for 71.1% of the global reserves while the percentage declined to 40% in 2015.

China launched the rare earth export quota license system in 1998. In recent years, Chinese government has attempted to decrease the amount of export enterprises and quotas as well as the annual exploitation of rare earth mines. For example, the rare earth export quota set by Ministry of Commerce of China for domestic enterprises declined from 50,000 tons in 2005 to 21,590 tons in 2014. Decrease in export quotas results in the increasing amount of smuggling.

On Mar. 26, 2014, the WTO released the panel report concerning the case of European Union, the U.S. and Japan against the export management measures of China's rare earth, tungsten, molybdenum and other related products. The export management measures of Chinese products involved in the case were judged as infraction. Tariffs on export of rare earth was abolished on May 1, 2015. Rare earth export quota system came to an end on Jan. 1, 2016. Before the cancellation of export quota, quite a few Chinese rare earth enterprises had no access to export quota, and smuggling became their main means of export. In spite of multiple regulations of Chinese government, it was difficult to eliminate the smuggling. With the abolishment of export quota and export tariff, the rare earth export license can be obtained as long as one provides the contract of sales, to a certain extent, which will help curb the smuggling of rare earth.

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