SHANGHAI, Nov. 10 -- Foreign miners should partner with Chinese firms and jointly seek new rare earth sources overseas in a bid to boost global supplies, a mining association official said in remarks published on Wednesday.
Xu Xu, the chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, said Chinese rare earth miners have more advanced technology on the separation and purification of the minerals, which is necessary to extract the right mix of rare earth elements.
"Rare earth deposits are a limited resource and every country should try to conserve its resources ... it is crucial that we find new sources of supply and ensure the sustainability of the industry," Xu was quoted by the China Business News as saying.
Rare earths comprise 17 elements that are necessary to make hybrid cars, mobile phones and flat-panel televisions, among other products.
Industry experts have said internal demand for rare earths in China, which mines 97 percent of the world's current output, is expected to surge in the coming years, as firms ramp up production of wind turbines and electrical vehicles to meet the government's energy saving plan.
Analysts have warned that the world could face a shortage of rare earths within a few years and that identifying a potential mine does not necessarily equate to production because the deposit must have the right mix of rare earth elements to make the mine a profitable operation.
Concerns over China's domination of the world's rare earth mineral supply erupted in September when China reportedly blocked the export of rare earth minerals to Japan following a dispute.