China closes polluting rare earths mines

24th August 2011


Related Topics

Related tags

  • Resource extraction ,
  • Electronics ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Prevention & Control

Author

IEMA

The Chinese government is shutting down facilities that extract rare earth elements, reigniting global fears over access to the precious metals.

China, which controls 95% of the world’s supply of the rare elements key to the production of electronic goods, has launched a nationwide inspection of rare earth mines amid concerns over their impact on the natural environment.

Rare earths are frequently extracted by small local farmers from open “leach” pits, into which water and chemicals such as fertilisers are poured dissolving the elements and separating them from the surrounding clay.

The pits are numerous across the Jiangzi province in Southern China and are often unlicensed. The new inspection campaign, which also sees the government offer substantial rewards to those who report illegal mining activity, began in Jiangzi and has already begun to shut down such operations.

The closures have sparked industry fears over supply shortages in the next couple of months and came as the Chinese government confirmed it is appealing the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) decision that China’s control of the world’s supply of rare earths contravenes international trade regulations.

In July, the WTO upheld complaints from European Union and the US that China’s imposition of quotas and duties on export last year was illegal.

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

Swing voters show strong support for renewables

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

A project promoter’s perspective on the environmental challenges facing new subsea power cables

3rd April 2024

Read more

The UK’s major cities lag well behind their European counterparts in terms of public transport use. Linking development to transport routes might be the answer, argues Huw Morris

3rd April 2024

Read more

Tom Harris examines the supply chain constraints facing the growing number of interconnector projects

2nd April 2024

Read more

The UK government’s carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) strategy is based on optimistic techno-economic assumptions that are now outdated, Carbon Tracker has warned.

13th March 2024

Read more

The UK government’s latest Public Attitudes Tracker has found broad support for efforts to tackle climate change, although there are significant concerns that bills will rise.

13th March 2024

Read more

A consortium including IEMA and the Good Homes Alliance have drafted a letter to UK government ministers expressing disappointment with the proposed Future Homes Standard.

26th February 2024

Read more

Global corporations such as Amazon and Google purchased a record 46 gigawatts (GW) of solar and wind energy last year, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF).

13th February 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close