China to reserve minerals
Source – Straits Times, published May 14, 2010
BEIJING – CHINA is preparing pilot programmes to protect strategic reserves of minerals, starting with trial schemes for coal and rare earths, officials have said, according to newspaper reports on Friday.
Cheng Liwei, an official in China’s Ministry of Land and Resources, told a recent meeting that the ministry had drafted ‘plans for trial sites and the related policies, and will launch the trial sites for mineral production area reserves as quickly as possible,’ the official China Mining News reported.
The first products under the pilot programme will be coal and rare earths, the Chinese-language report said.
The report shed few details of how the reserves policies for minerals will work, or when the full policies will be rolled out, but stressed the urgency driving the effort.
The report came a year after China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning body, said China would set up 80-120 million tonnes of coal reserves in Shandong province over the following 3-5 years. The Chinese government has been alarmed by feverish, and sometimes reckless mining booms sparked by the country’s rapid economic growth, and has been seeking to strengthen state controls of minerals.
But China has also been caught short when domestic demand suddenly surpassed domestic supplies, causing shortages and price spikes. Although China is the world’s biggest coal producer, coal stocks and supplies ran dangerously low this winter when temperatures plunged unexpectedly. — REUTERS