Thursday, May 7, 2009

China puts ceiling on 2009 output of tungsten, antimony, rare earth

   BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) -- China said Thursday it would impose a ceiling on the output of mineral resources like tungsten, antimony and rare earth in 2009 amid shrinking demand.

    The move is aimed to protect China's reserves of these minerals, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in an online statement.

    The country's tungsten ore concentrate output is limited to 68,555 tonnes this year; rare earth ore to 82,320 tonnes, and antimony ore to 90,180 tonnes, said the ministry.

    These quotas on output were based on decreasing demand across the world as a result of the ongoing global financial crisis, said the ministry.

    The ministry said it would also not take any license applications before June 30, 2010 for exploring the three resources.

    China holds 40.5 percent of the world's proven tungsten reserves, and is the world's biggest antimony producer. The nation has a proven rare earth reserve of 52 million tonnes, or about 58 percent of the world's total.

    The country started to cap the annual output of tungsten in 2002 and that of rare earth in 2006. It is the first time such restrictions have been placed on antimony.

    The ceiling on tungsten ore concentrates (with tungsten trioxide content above 65 percent) last year was 66,850 tonnes, and that on rare earth ore at 87,620 tonnes.

    The ministry said such caps are intended to stabilize global demand and supply of these products and ensure their sustainable use.

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