China's State Council has issued a national guideline to promote sustainable and healthy development of the nation's rare earth industry.
From Friday, iron alloys containing more than 10% of rare earths will fall under the export quota, the commerce ministry said in a statement.
The guideline, posted on the central government's website, www.gov.cn, lists a slew of problems that severely affect the sector's healthy development, including illegal mining, excessively expanding smelting and extracting capacities, environmental damage, and disorder in exports, the sate news media agency Xinhua reported.
Special campaigns will be launched to crack down on illegal mining activities and excessive production, and greater efforts will be made to combat practices that pollute the environment and damage the ecology. The campaigns will also target illegal exports and smuggling of rare earths, the guideline said.
China implements a quota system for rare earth exports. In a move to further streamline exports, the Ministry of Commerce and General Administration of Customs on Thursday jointly announced the inclusion of rare earth ferroalloys in the export quota system, the report said.
In order to promote rare earth consolidation, the China Ministry of Land and Resources in January announced the establishment of 11 state-managed rare earth mining zones in Ganzhou Prefecture, Jiangxi Province, which is rich in ion-absorbed-type rare earth.
The 11 mining zones have a combined area of 2,500 square kilometers, with rare earth reserves estimated at 760,000 tonnes.
China mines about 90 percent of the world's rare earth minerals - which is a collection of seventeen chemical elements and is used in the making of various technological devices, cellular phones, high performance batteries, flat screen televisions, green energy technology, and are critical to the future of hybrid and electric cars, high-tech military applications and superconductors and fiber-optic communication systems.
China has been reducing export quotas of rare earth minerals for the past few years, citing environmental concerns. However, Wang Caifeng, who is in charge of setting up the China Rare Earth Industry Association, stated that China might slightly raise the production cap and export quota next year.
China, which mines more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth, has exported 6,000 tons, or 49.8 percent, of its total rare earth to Japan, representing 167 percent rise year on year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.