China issues white paper on rare earth

Date Jun 26 2012 16:27:53

China contributes more than 90 percent of global output of the 17 rare earth

metals, but its own deposits only account for 36.4 percent of the world's

total reserve of 100 million tons. File photo: IC


China on Wednesday issued a white paper on its rare earth industry, the first of its kind in the country, as the world's largest rare earth producer strives to better protect the valuable resources.

The white paper, titled "Situation and Policies of China's Rare Earth Industry," was released by the Information Office of the State Council, or China's cabinet.

China will continue to follow WTO rules, strengthen the industry's management and supply rare earth products to the global market, the white paper said.

The white paper said its publication was aimed at giving the international community a better understanding of China's rare earth industry and policies.

As the world's largest rare earth producer, China supplies more than 90 percent of the world's demand for rare earth metals, although its reserves account for just 23 percent of the world's total.

Rare earth metals, a group of 17 metals, are vital for the manufacture of high-tech products ranging from smart phones and wind turbines to electric car batteries.

Mining the metals is extremely damaging to the environment. To control environmental damage and protect the non-renewable resources, China has implemented multiple policies, including production caps, export quotas, stricter emission standards and higher resource taxes.

However, these policies have sparked complaints from major consumers such as Japan, which purchased 56 percent of China's rare earth exports in 2011.

China's intensified regulations are intended to protect the environment, preserve valuable resources and promote the sustainable development of the sector, Gao Yunhu, an official with Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a Wednesday press conference.

China will continue to supply the global market with rare earth metals while maintaining regulatory policies that fall in line with WTO rules, according to Su Bo, vice minister of Industry and Information Technology.

"China hopes other countries will actively develop their domestic earth earth resources, as well as expand and diversify supplies for the international market," Su said.

Report by SHMET

Excessive exploitation hurts rare earth reserves

Date Jun 25 2012 15:36:03

Excessive exploitation has led to the rapid decline of China's rare earth reserves, the Beijing News reported, citing the White Paper released by the Information Office of the State Council Wednesday. 

China's rare earth reserves account for approximately 23 percent of the world's total,and more than 90 percent of rare earth in the world market is supplied by China, according to the White Paper.

The White Paper, Situation and Policies of China's Rare Earth Industry, said after more than 50 years of excessive mining, China's rare earth reserves have continued to decline and the number of years of guaranteed rare earth supply has been reducing. 

The smuggling of rare earth products to overseas markets also continues to be a problem. 

From 2006 to 2008, the volumes of rare earth products imported from China, according to statistics collected by from foreign customs, were 35 percent, 59 percent and 36 percent higher than the volumes exported, as statistics released by the Chinese customs show,the White Paper noted. 

However, according to the White Paper, the government has established an inter-departmental coordinating mechanism for the rare earth industry to make plans and study the national strategy, program, plan, policy, and other important issues concerning the development of the rare earth industry. 

The state has also set up a rare earth office to coordinate and propose plans on the mining, production, reserve, and import and export of rare earth materials.

Report by SHMET

Central bank: No change in property lending rate

Date Jun 15 2012 15:13:50

The People's Bank of China reiterated on Thursday that the lower limit of individual property lending interest rates would be maintained at 70 percent of the benchmark lending rate, although it reduced the lower limit of corporate lending rates from 90 percent to 80 percent of the benchmark rate on June 8. 

In a statement published on its website, the central bank said regulators have been constantly guiding and regulating individual property lending "effectively" and "prudently". 

Report by SHMET

Bank president detained for 'economic problems'

Date Jun 13 2012 11:45:55

Postal Savings Bank of China said its president Tao Liming and another official are, because of suspicions of personal "economic problems," currently "assisting" an investigation by relevant departments, according to a statement posted on the lender's website on Monday. 

The bank issued the statement after Caixin Online reported earlier on Monday that Tao has been placed under shuanggui, a form of detention imposed on Party officials. 

Report by SHMET

M&A reviews could speed up

Date Jun 08 2012 13:13:20

Ministry official says proposed move would 'fast-track' transactions

China might streamline anti-monopoly reviews for mergers and acquisitions this year to facilitate transactions, a senior official said.

The Ministry of Commerce plans to introduce simplified methods of assessing concentration by classifying M&A applications according to the market shares companies held before formal investigations commenced, Shang Ming, director of the ministry's anti-monopoly bureau, said in an address at Peking University on Wednesday.

Shang said these "fast-track" procedures, still under discussion, will only apply to cases with simple relevant markets and small market shares.

Although the ministry has not decided on the threshold level of market share, Shang said it will not be "very high".

China's anti-trust investigation process, which Shang called a "toddler" since it only started in 2008 when the Anti-Monopoly Law took effect, has been criticized for being too slow.

Shang explained that the increasing plans of global companies to expand their businesses in China, as well as a lack of human resources and procedures that don't distinguish among the types of deals, have contributed to the slow pace of clearances. 

M&A reviews could speed up

M&A reviews could speed up

M&A reviews could speed up

The number of M&As submitted to the ministry for review surged from 17 in 2008 to about 200 last year.

Shang said only about 20 employees in the bureau have had to handle all 450 or so cases over the past four years.

"Anti-trust investigations have become much more complicated than before, involving many related parties. Just the opinion solicitation procedure takes a lot of time," he said.

In a case last year in which Swiss food giant Nestle SA acquired China's Yinlu Foods Group, a leading producer of peanut milk, the ministry took nearly three months to conduct inquiries among government departments, trade associations, dozens of supermarkets and hundreds of consumers.

"Standing laws require all the cases, simple or complicated, to go through the same procedures before clearance," he said.

Under the Anti-Monopoly Law, concentration assessment cannot be suspended once it has started, and the preliminary inquiry should be completed within 30 days, though that can be extended into a second phase of as long as 180 days.

Changes in these procedures could mean faster approvals, analysts said.

Wang Junlin, a merger attorney, said statistics show that about 59 percent of M&As underwent further investigation from 2008 to 2010. That means companies have to wait up to 120 days before the authority clears the deal.

The optimal time for a merger can pass if the approval procedure takes too long, he said.

Wang said if companies can anticipate the result of the concentration assessment at the initial stage of anti-trust investigations, managers can be better prepared for future business operations.

Report by SHMET