Is China Really All That Concerned With Illegal Lanthanum Cerium Mining?

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China’s attempts to play by the rules seem to keep cropping up.

(Well, who knows if Beijing is actually willing and able to play by the rules, or if it’s all for show but that’s another issue.)

Disregarding the fact that China blatantly eschews trade rules and regulations (with their rare earths and other raw materials restrictions deemed illegal by the WTO earlier this summer), they’re making outward efforts to play nice in two areas carbon emissions and illegal rare earths mining.

As for the emissions angle, “China will not allow its carbon dioxide emissions per person to reach levels seen in the US, according to the minister in charge of climate policy, Xie Zhenhua, [who] said that to let emissions rise that high would be a Ëœdisaster for the world,’ according to a recent BBC article.

Right off the bat, that pronouncement seems moot the sheer volume of emissions in China coupled with sub-par emissions standards as compared with the US make China a much more dangerous polluter. It doesn’t matter that China’s “per-capita emissions aren’t as high as the US’ it matters that a country of more than 1.2 billion is building and consuming at remarkable rates. Throw in GDP growth trends and future forecasts, and¦well, we can see where this is going. Once the beast has grown, it has to maintain an adequate caloric intake into adulthood.

In other news, China has moved to implement specialized invoicing to be used by rare earths producers, in order to clamp down on illegal rare earths mining, according to a Mineweb piece. Audits have been bandied about before, but now, part of the problem is that rare earths without invoices have been selling at lower prices than not. For example:

“Lanthanum cerium was being sold for $ 34,488 per tonne with invoice, and $ 23,515 per ton without invoice. In Baotou, Inner Mongolia, one dealer who had purchased several thousand tonnes of rare earth carbonate at a price of $ 14,109 per tonne, was said to be desperately seeking buyers.

As we know, the Chinese want prices to rise again since they came off more than 30 percent over the last month. According to the article, dealers don’t want to sell their inventories at the current low prices. So this method of introducing invoices seems to be a good play to raise prices just as much as it is to clamp down on illegal mining.

Ahh, Beijing industrial policy¦always a good topic to mull in the morning.

–Taras Berezowsky

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