China is giving its biggest, state-owned rare earths miner and producer a monopoly for the northern part of the country in reforms aimed at bringing the strategically important sector that’s crucial to advanced manufacturing under tighter control.
The Chinese Ministry for -Industry and Information Technology said in a statement seen yesterday on its Web site that Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech Co (內蒙古包鋼稀土集團高科技), will be the only rare earths producer in the region — China’s biggest production base for the metals.
It said 35 other companies would be restructured or closed down by the end of this month and that Baotou Steel Rare-Earth will handle all mining, processing and trading in Inner Mongolia.
The company was the only firm able to satisfy capacity and production requirements of various government ministries, the Global Times newspaper reported.
China has abundant reserves and produces 97 percent of the global supply of the 17 rare-earth minerals, which are used in computer disk drives, hybrid car components and weapons among others.
To cope with growing demand at home and reduce environmental damage, China has been reducing export quotas of rare earths over the past several years.