China raises rare metal quotas, Malaysia stalls on metal plant

By Gracie Valena - 25 Apr 2011 16:22:0 GMT
China raises rare metal quotas, Malaysia stalls on metal plant

China's Xinhua News Agency announced April 25 increased quotas for the production and smelting of five rare metals in China: tungsten, tin, antimony, molybdenum and rare earth ores.

The quotas are set by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) together with the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Land and Resources.

Only enterprises that meet the requirements of national industrial and management policies can get the quota from local governments' supervisory departments and ''no extra quota or production beyond the limit will be allowed,'' said a statement on the MIIT's website.

The MIIT statement reports the output control target for tungsten concentrates at 87,000 tonnes this year, up from last year's 80,000 tonnes. For tin ores, the output quota as 73,000 tonnes from 65,000 tonnes in 2010. For antimony concentrates, the quota is at 105,000 tonnes, compared to 100,000 tonnes last year. For molybdenum concentrates, the quota is 200,000 tonnes, up from 185,000 tonnes last year. And for rare earth oxide, the quota this year is 93,800 tonnes, up from 90,400 tonnes last year.

According to Xinhua, China will not grant any new licenses for prospecting and mining of tungsten, antimony and rare earth ores before June 30 of 2012. The news agency noted that China's policies for regulating rare earth and other metal resources industries are intended to balance environmental protection needs and industrial demands, Aside from the quotas, other policies are stricter emission limits on miners and a resources tax.

China's limits on rare earth metals has caused concern in the electronics industry in recent years since they are necessary for a wide range of electronics.

Metal mining in Malaysia

Meanwhile, the Malaysian government is reviewing an Australian mining company's plan to set up a rare earth refinery plant in Kuantan, the capital of the state of Pahang.

In a media briefing on April 22, YB Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia's Minister of International Trade and Industry, announced that the Malaysia government is appointing ''an independent panel of international experts to review the health and safety aspects'' of the plant.

The move was taken in response to increasing pressure from environmentalists over possible radiation pollution from the plant.

The proposed plant would produce metals worth about $1.66 billion a year for use in mobile phones, flat screen TVs and other electronic devices, microwave ovens and weapons such as rockets.