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China urges local governments to regulate rare earth sector

Source:   Time:

BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities have launched a three-month campaign that highlights the role and responsibilities of local governments in cracking down on illegal activity in the rare earth sector.

The campaign, which will last from Aug. 15 to Nov. 15, is intended to reduce illegal exploration, production and distribution of rare earth metals and regulate rare earth recycling enterprises, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a statement on its website.

Eight authoritative bodies will join the campaign, according to the statement.

In addition to the MIIT, the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Environmental Protection, General Administration of Customs, State Administration of Taxation, State Administration for Industry & Commerce and State Administration of Work Safety will participate in the campaign.

Following the announcement of the campaign, the fifth China Rare Earth Forum kicked off Thursday in Baotou, a city in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which is home to 80 percent of the country's rare earth resources.

The forum is focused on the development of the rare earth industry and permanent magnetic applications.

China supplies over 90 percent of the world's rare earth metals. The country's rare earth sector raked in 10.8 billion yuan (1.75 billion U.S. dollars) in profits in 2012, down 32.1 percent from 2011, according to MIIT data.

Authorities have made some efforts to regulate the sector, where illegal mining and production, tax evasion and environmental pollution are rife.

To curb illegal industrial activity, the State Council, or China's cabinet, called for building a well-regulated rare earth exploration, smelting and distribution market within one to two years in 2011.

During previous crackdowns conducted in 2011 and 2012, respectively, 14 unauthorized mines were closed and 14 smuggling cases were investigated, said Chen Yanhai, director of the Raw Materials Department under the MIIT.

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