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World concerns over rare earth metal supply after China restrictions

2009-09-05 18:40 BJT

China says it plans to restrict exports of rare earth metals, and build a strategic reserve of the valuable minerals. But this decision by the world's largest producer of rare earth metals has sparked global concerns. Let's check out some global reactions.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that China's decision could cause a crisis for high-tech development. The UK newspaper says global energy competition has entered a new stage, claiming this is because nations are already experiencing difficulties in acquiring rare raw materials.

The US News and World Reports says the US relies on the Chinese exports for new energy uses. Export restrictions on the metal elements could cause fuel refineries to cut production, triggering a new nation-wide energy shortage.

Meanwhile, the Times worries that China's plans could lead to a global supply short-fall, adding that the monopoly of rare earth metals is unimaginable for Western nations.

But developed nations have hardly mentioned the benefits they have won from China's willingness to tolerate the Western world's environmental abuses. Many countries, like the US, have already built their own rare metal reserves. They use imports to protect their mineral reserves. The US is the world's second largest rare earth metals holder, accounting for nearly 12 percent of worldwide stocks. But it began halting production in 1999 for strategic and environmental concerns.

Australia and Canada are also tightening the mining of rare earth metals, and importing from China for mineral reserves.

South Korea and Japan nearly import all rare earth elements from China. The minerals are used in one third of Japan's industrial sector, and the country has on reserve two thirds of its annual imports for strategic proposes.

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: CCTV.com