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China Won't Restrict Rare Earths, But They Will Tax Them

Wed, 12/15/2010 - 3:31am

BEIJING (AP) — China plans to raise tariffs on some rare earth exports starting next year in a move to limit shipments of the precious metals out of the country, state media said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Finance issued a statement saying some rare earth products will have export duties increased beginning Jan. 1, the official China Daily reported.

The ministry did not specify which rare earths would be affected or how much the tax would be.

Rare earths, a group of 17 minerals, are widely used in the manufacturing of high-tech products such as flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, electric car batteries, and wind turbines.

China produces 97 percent of the global supply of rare earth metals.

Also Wednesday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman promised China would "act responsibly" in international cooperation on rare earth exploration and ensuring that basic demands for the minerals are met.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted spokesman Yao Jian saying the ministry was working with government departments to determine export quotas of rare earths for 2011.

China has cut rare earth exploration, production and exports as part of government efforts to promote sustainable development and protect the environment, Yao said.

Earlier this year, Japan accused China of blocking rare earth shipments following a territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Shaken by the threat of disruptions in supplies of rare earths, Japan has considered becoming a recycling center for the metals and is establishing partnerships with other Asian nations including Vietnam and Mongolia to develop new mines.

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