China''s rare earth mining zones aimed at sustainabiltiy:Report

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Hong Kong, February 11 (Yonhap) China has decided to setup its first group of rare earth mining zones with a view toprotect not only resources but also the environment, a statenews media outlet said today.

The Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources announced lastmonth the establishment of 11 state-planned rare earth miningzones in Ganzhou Prefecture of east China''s southern JiangxiProvince, an area rich in ion-absorbed-type rare earth.

"Setting up the mining sections will help the Chinesegovernment to properly manage rare earth resources," XinhuaNews Agency said, citing an official from the Ministry of Landand Resources.

Rare earth elements are crucial for the production ofcomponents used in consumer electronics, but their mining isknown to be destructive to forests, soil and farmland. Thewaste released after mining also damages the environment.

Through the designation of special rare earth areas, theChinese government is also expected to track information onresources more accurately.

The 11 special mining zones have a combined area of 2,500square kilometers, with rare earth reserves estimated at760,000 tons.

The ministry also designated two state-planned ironmining zones in Panzhihua, western Sichuan Province. The twoiron mining zones have an area of 460 square kilometers.

China supplies 97 per cent of the world''s rare earthelements and has gained its market dominance by cutting pricesof the elements.

Ion-absorbed-type rare earth, also known as medium andheavy rare earth, is considered more valuable than lighterkinds as it is used in more advanced technology areas,including missiles.

China''s verified reserves of ion-absorbed-type rare earthstood at 8 million tons in 2008 and reserves of light rareearth totaled 50 million tons to 60 million tons, according toministry data. YONHAP

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