China, the world’s largest rare earth producer and exporter, will complete a major restructuring move by mid-2016 to consolidate the industry, Xinhua quoted a senior government official as saying.
The work on forming rare earth blocs will be finished by the end of June to restructure the country’s rare-earth assets, said Xin Guobin, vice minister of industry and information technology, told a symposium.
Xin said this year will see a reduction of rare-earth smelting capacity, improved output control and increased competitiveness, Xindua reported.
China’s rare-earth industry is beset by problems, including illegal mining, smuggling and a lack of competitiveness due to weak research and development.
In a bid to consolidate and upgrade the industry, the government pledged in 2014 to encourage and support six industry leaders to carry out mergers and acquisitions separately to create large rare-earth producers, Xinhua said, adding that three firms had already done so and the remaining were working towards it.
By the end of 2020, China should have enhanced its protecting of rare earth resources and have world-leading rare earth-related technology, the agency quoted Xin as saying.
Rare earth metals are vital for manufacturing high-tech products ranging from smartphones and wind turbines to car batteries and missiles.