Chinese Official Denies Report of Plan to Cut Rare Earth Mineral Exports

A Chinese commerce ministry official is denying a report that the country will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals by 30 percent next year.

The China Business News reported the development a day after an unnamed commerce ministry official told the China Daily that Beijing would reduce the quotas to conserve and protect its rare earth resources and to avoid depletion of the key manufacturing materials.

The China Business Daily said that report was groundless and that no such measures would be implemented, citing an unidentified Ministry of Commerce official.

China mines more than 90 percent of the world’s rare earth elements for use in a wide variety of products and applications, including manufacturing and military uses.

U.S. trade officials are also checking on a New York Times report that China had blocked shipments of crucial minerals to the United States and Europe, Reuters reports.

China’s Ministry of Commerce announced last week that the country’s reserves of rare earth minerals had dropped by nearly 40 percent between 1996 and 2003 and might be depleted within 15 years if the current rate of production is maintained.

China has been blocking shipments of the minerals to Japan for the past month.

“The embargo is expanding” beyond Japan, one industry official told the New York Times on Tuesday.

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At Legal Insurrection, Rare Earth Metals Become Rarer:

Last January, and again in late September, I wrote that the Achilles heel of the Obama green energy agenda — which involves a stifling of carbon-based energy use through taxation and regulation in favor of “green” energy sources — failed to take into account that green energy technology depended heavily on “rare earth” minerals mined almost exclusively in China.

Once again, this near monopoly is coming home to roost, as China has announced an across-the-board cut back in rare earth exports…

…Obama merely is trading our dependence on foreign oil — as to which there are numerous suppliers — for dependence on a single foreign source of green technology raw materials.

What possibly could go wrong?

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