SMM News: on June 17, National Development and Reform Commission spokesman Meng Wei said at a news conference that in order to promote the high-quality development of China's rare earth industry, the National Development and Reform Commission has recently held three rare earth symposiums in a row, and will step up efforts to study and introduce relevant policies and measures to give full play to the special value of rare earths as strategic resources. Meng Wei said that China is the world's largest rare earth reserves, but also the largest producer. In this context, strengthening the development and utilization of rare earth resources plays an important and positive role in the development of China's economy and the world economy.
Prior to this, from 4 to 5 June, the National Development and Reform Commission organized three symposiums for two consecutive days to discuss the high-quality development of the rare earth industry. Subsequently, the NDRC issued the Circular on the investigation of rare Earth and other Strategic Mineral Resources (hereinafter referred to as the "Circular"), indicating that from June 10, the responsible persons of the relevant departments and bureaus of the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Natural Resources will lead teams to Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Fujian, Hunan, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Sichuan provinces (districts) to carry out research.
The three ministries and commissions have made unprecedented efforts to study and study the situation of strategic mineral resources such as rare earths.
From the content of the investigation, it mainly focuses on finding out the situation of rare earth resources and industry in China, and soliciting opinions on the development of the industry. So far, the Times Weekly reporter asked Guangdong, Fujian a number of rare earth enterprises, did not get a clear response to the details of the survey. However, a number of industry insiders said in an interview with the Times Weekly that the rare earth industry will be followed by a new round of policies and regulations and industry norms.
Investigation of three components in rare Earth heavy provinces
China is a large reserve and production country of rare earths. At present, 98% of the total rare earth resources in China are distributed in Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Sichuan and other areas. "light" and "heavy" refer to light rare earths and heavy rare earths. Light rare earths are mainly lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium and neodymium, represented by Inner Mongolia, and heavy rare earths are dominated by terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium and yttrium, represented by Jiangxi.
The research sites of the three ministries are closely related to the distribution of rare earth resources in China. From June 10, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Natural Resources, three teams went to China's important rare earth producing areas for investigation. The first group was led by the National Development and Reform Commission to Jiangxi, Fujian and Guangdong to carry out research; the second group was led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to Hunan, Guangxi and Sichuan to carry out research; the third group was led by the Ministry of Natural Resources to Inner Mongolia to carry out research.
Among them, Jiangxi, the research destination of the National Development and Reform Commission, is one of the key producing areas of rare earths in China, especially in Ganzhou City, Jiangxi Province. According to the data, Ganzhou is known as the "rare earth kingdom", where 70% of the world's medium and heavy rare earths and 60% of wolframite are produced here every year. On May 20 this year, General Secretary Xi Jinping went to Ganzhou to inspect and study rare earth related industries. From May 13 to 15, the Department of Raw Materials Industry of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also went to Ganzhou for research.
According to the Circular, the contents of this study include a "mapping" of the overall situation and industry operation of rare earths and other strategic mineral resources in various provinces (regions). It also investigated and solicited opinions and suggestions on the development of strategic mineral resources such as rare earths, and discussed how to improve the guarantee capacity of China's strategic mineral resources such as rare earths.
Liu Jin (a pseudonym), an insider in the rare earth industry, told the Times Weekly that this time it is very necessary to "find out" the rare earth resources in China. "rare earth is a very important strategic resource, but the data of rare earth resources in some places in China are still in the 20th century, and the data have not been updated all the year round after rare earth mining in some places."
According to Xinhuanet, Baiyunebo Iron Mine, known as the "capital of rare earths" in Baotou City, Inner Mongolia, still uses data from the 1950s. No one can say exactly how big the metallogenic belt is, what the direction of the vein is, and whether the content has changed or not.
Continuous rectification of the industry
In addition to "mapping", better introduction of industry rectification measures is also one of the purposes of the survey.
The mining chaos in the rare earth industry began in the 1980s, and the profit-seeking psychology brought by market demand led to many enterprises without mining license to enter the rare earth market. In January 2014, the rare earth group plan, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, was approved by the State Council and finally established a "1 to 5" rare earth industry pattern, including northern rare earths. As well as Chinalco, Minmetals, southern rare earths, Guangdong rare earths, Xiamen tungsten industry. At present, six large state-owned rare earth groups have integrated 22 of the country's 23 rare earth mines and 54 of the 59 smelting separation enterprises.
At the forum of the National Development and Reform Commission, experts attending the meeting said that after various rectification, China has formed a complete industrial system integrating mining and selection, smelting separation, deep processing application and product testing, scientific and technological research and development, education and training, and so on. But at the same time, the rare earth mine ecological environment protection historical debt is many, the treatment task is heavy, the illegal production ban continues, the rare earth resources high-end field application development is still insufficient and so on.
The reporter of the Times Weekly noticed that China is stepping up efforts to rectify private excavation and theft.
On 4 January, 12 departments, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Public Security, issued the Circular on continuously strengthening the rectification of the order of the rare Earth Industry, calling for increased dynamic supervision of key resource areas and mines, resolutely banning the closure of illegal mining sites (including recovery and utilization) of rare earth minerals, such as mining instead of exploration, unlicensed mining, cross-border mining, and illegal outsourcing, in accordance with the law, confiscating illegal proceeds, and thoroughly cleaning up surface facilities. The start of the rare earth New year rectification of the first.
On June 14, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also issued a mandatory national standard for the packaging, marking, transportation and storage of rare earth products, publicizing them and listening to the opinions of all sectors of the community. The standard points out that it is required to increase the traceability of raw materials in the standards of packaging, marking, transportation and storage of rare earth products. Targeted to crack down on the current domestic rare earth mining illegal mining and repeated prohibition of the phenomenon.
In view of the problem of illegal and illegal production in the rare earth industry, the NDRC said at a news conference on June 17 that it would step up efforts to rectify and regulate the industry, build a long-term regulatory mechanism, and standardize the development order of the industry.
Areas in the middle and lower reaches still need to be upgraded
Although the outside world is enthusiastic about the rare earth industry, but industry insiders feel that there is still a lot of room for the development of China's rare earth industry.
A number of experts pointed out to the Times Weekly reporter. China's rare earth industry is still in the upper reaches of the initial processing of low-end position, follow-up processing and technology research and development links are relatively missing, high-end rare earth products rely on imports.
Liu Jin said: "the downstream link of rare earths is our short board, and this short board is also difficult to improve our manpower and funds in a short period of time." This is a process of technology accumulation, and now the state is also increasing its support for the development of high-end industries in the rare earth industry, narrowing the gap between the high-end industry and the advanced level of foreign countries as far as possible. "
The data show that the rare earth industry is divided into upstream, including rare earth mining, smelting, purification and other rare earth preparation; the middle reaches, including all kinds of rare earth materials, such as rare earth permanent magnet materials, rare earth luminous materials, and these materials are added to other products according to different characteristics; downstream, including tanks, fighter planes, steel metallurgy, optical fiber communications and other fields, as well as consumer electronics, automotive, display and other high-end products.
Chen Lin (a pseudonym), a rare earth researcher in a university, told the Times Weekly that at present, China has done more rare earth mining and smelting, but the middle and downstream are relatively weak.
"take the study of rare earth elements in the middle reaches as an example. We need to study the basic characterization and structure of elements in order to facilitate the use of subsequent products. But in this basic area alone, the gap between us and foreign countries is too wide. This kind of research has only been done in China in the past 20 years. As a result, we have to go to great lengths to catch up and have to trade quantity for technology and industry status. " Chen Lin explained to the Times Weekly reporter.
This way of exchanging quantity for industry status has also paid a greater price for environmental pollution.
Taking the ionic rare earth ore in the south as an example, this type of rare earth ore exists in the soil layer in the state of ion. The basic principle of mining is to soak the soil with ammonium sulfate, replace the ionic rare earth elements into the solution, and then precipitate with oxalic acid or ammonium bicarbonate.
Liu Jin said: "this kind of exploitation is like soaking the land in an area with high concentration of sulfuric acid. If we do not grasp it well, it will pollute the environment of groundwater and surface water very much."
These conditions may improve in the future-the country is building up its capacity to improve the weakness of the middle and lower reaches of China's rare earth industry, as well as the problem of excessive environmental debt.
In 2016, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued the rare Earth Industry Development Plan (2016-2020), which proposes that by 2020, the industry as a whole will enter the development stage of medium and high-end applications and high added value, and give full play to the strategic value of rare earth application functions. in terms of the main indicators, it is proposed that the market share of high-end rare earth functional materials and devices should reach 50% by 2020.
In response, the NDRC said that in view of the lack of application of high-end industries in the rare earth industry, it will improve the incentive mechanism for innovation, support enterprises to strengthen intellectual property protection, break through a number of key core technologies, and enhance the competitiveness of the industry. In the aspect of environmental protection problems that have been formed at present, we will promote mine ecological restoration and environmental treatment, speed up the research and development and application of rare earth green mining and smelting separation technology, and promote the green development of rare earth industry.
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