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The current status of rare earth cheap exports needs to be reversed

  China has always been the world's most important supplier of rare earths. According to the data, China's rare earth supply accounts for about 80% of the world's total. In 2017, China's rare earth ore production was 105,000 tons, accounting for 81% of the global rare earth supply.


  Among the proven rare earth reserves, except China ranks first in the world (37%), Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, India, Australia, the United States and other countries have relatively abundant rare earth reserves. However, the global supply of rare earths has long relied on China. According to the predicted growth of rare earth demand and the current mining speed and scale, China's rare earth resources will be exhausted in the next 25-30 years, and the time to become a rare earth importer may be earlier.


  Why are other countries with rare earth resource reserves basically not mining rare earths? Is China unique in rare earth mining technology? Obviously not. In general, rare earth mining and refining do not require high technology, and many of China's rare earths are actually mined by township and village enterprises. The international competitiveness of China's rare earths is largely due to lower resource costs and environmental costs, but China's rare earth enterprises have been at a loss. In addition to smuggling exports, China's rare earth exports rose rapidly from 16,000 tons in 2012 to 47,000 tons in 2016, while exports fell from $90 million in 2012 to $35 million in 2016. This status quo cannot be sustained.


  Rare earths are a non-renewable strategic resource. Researchers at home and abroad have studied the key metals for low-carbon energy development and found that the development of low-carbon energy technologies will rely heavily on key metals. Some key materials will face constraints of supply shortage in the future, and medium-term capacity shortages and long-term resource shortages are likely. presence. It is foreseeable that China's new energy development will promote the sustained and substantial growth of demand for rare earth metals. Since the government regards rare earths as strategic resources, then rare earth mining must have strategic thinking.


  The media often said that China must compete for "discourse power." According to the huge market share of China's rare earths, it should be an industry that can really have the right to speak, but this is not the case. The oil exports of OPEC members account for about 60% of the world's oil trade. The 14 member states represent different national interests and can jointly limit production to maintain oil prices. Why can't Chinese rare earth enterprises maintain their prices? With the development of new energy technologies, global demand for rare earths will increase substantially. China itself is also a major consumer of rare earths. If the current situation of low-cost export of rare earths is not changed, China's demand for rare earths will inevitably be subject to people.


  From mining to smelting, every aspect of the rare earth will cause pollution to the environment, including destruction of vegetation, soil erosion, imbalance of ecosystems, etc., and may also precipitate ammonia nitrogen, polluted water sources, polluted water from various gases, and even some impacts. restore. Therefore, compared with the current international rare earth prices, the excessive resource and environmental costs are the main reasons why Brazil, Russia, Australia, the United States and other countries have not exploited their own rare earths.


  The black rare earth industry chain is still the biggest problem for the sustainable development of China's rare earth industry. The huge economic benefits of black rare earths have made it illegal to exploit black rare earths. The pirate mining, super-index mining, and illegal smelting and separation have formed a black rare earth industrial chain, and the low-cost black rare earth provides a source for rare earth smuggling exports. If the illegal black rare earth supply chain is not really put out as soon as possible from the policy design, it will be difficult to reverse the current situation of China's rare earth exports. Therefore, the government needs to increase its efforts to internalize the resources and environmental costs of rare earth mining as much as possible.


  First, the strict rectification of black rare earths is the primary task of reducing environmental damage. The competitiveness of the black rare earth industry chain comes from basically no resource and environmental costs. Relevant government departments have recently stepped up efforts to reorganize the industry order and adopted various measures to crack down on the illegal rare earth black interest chain, including reward reports, rare earth special invoices, intensive project review, mine fence construction, judicial cracking illegal mining and processing. From the current market supply and demand, the effect of blackout is not obvious, so more stringent monitoring and stricter penalties are needed. In addition, the government can also reduce black rare earth exports through purchasing and storage.


  Second, there is a need to further reduce the environmental hazards of rare earths. Rare earth mining has caused many environmental bad debts and faced the problem of who will pay for environmental restoration funds. The government needs to establish an ecological restoration mechanism based on the principle of ^who invests and who benefits ̄ and rehabilitate abandoned rare earth mines. The increase in the concentration of the rare earth industry will be more conducive to the protection of resources and the environment. On the one hand, the government will be easier to supervise large enterprises; on the other hand, large enterprises will have more strength to adopt advanced production processes and invest more resources. In the case of environmental protection, it is also more capable of integrating upstream and downstream resources and enhancing the value of the industrial chain.


  Finally, protecting resources and the environment requires further enhancement of the concentration of the rare earth industry. Although the concentration of rare earth industry in China has greatly improved, the pattern of the rare earth industry led by the six major groups has basically taken shape, but it is expected that the national rare earth integration will not be completed until 2020. Taking bismuth oxide as an example, according to statistics, the current six major groups together account for less than 50% of the total market. As China faces a global market, higher industry concentration is beneficial to enhance global competitiveness. In addition, because it involves national strategic resources, it needs national planning and layout, breaks local interest barriers and existing interests, and takes advantage of the current loose capacity and low price to further integrate China's rare earth industry. The government can also promote the further increase of corporate concentration by raising the threshold and cost of resources and resources, as well as fiscal and taxation and financing support.

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