HONG KONG, June 9 (Reuters) – China plans to increase its production of rare earth materials by nearly 12 percent this year from 2013, the country’s land and resources ministry said.
China produces more than 90 percent of the world’s rare earths and is the key exporter of 17 elements with a range of applications in high-tech sectors such as defence, renewable energy and telecommunications.
Its target output for 2014 is set at 105,000 tonnes of rare earth oxide versus 93,800 tonnes last year, the land and resources ministry said in a report posted on its website
Beijing is already preparing to scrap controversial tariffs and quotas on rare earth exports after a World Trade Organization panel branded them discriminatory earlier this year. China also plans a change in resource taxes, with several pilot regions already preparing to shift. [ID:nL3N0OF26P]
China had in 2010 imposed tough output quotas and export tariffs as part of a crackdown on the sector, complaining that global prices were too low to cover the huge environmental costs of producing rare earths. To help cover those costs, exporters have also been assessed a tax of 15-25 percent.
While raising the production of rare earths, China will keep mine production of tungsten at 89,000 tonnes of tri-oxide this year, flat to last year, the report said.
Tungsten is used to strengthen specialty steels, including those used in the defence industry.
The country will also cancel a production cap on antimony, used in making flame-proofing compounds. The production was capped at 89,000 tonnes in 2013.
China is also the world’s top producer and exporter of tungsten and antimony.
(Reporting by Polly Yam; Editing by Tom Hogue)