NANCHANG, April 3 (Xinhua) -- A major rare earth production corporation has been formed in east China's Jiangxi Province as part of efforts to boost the industry's sustainable development.
The state-owned Ganzhou Rare Earth Group Co., Ltd., based in the city of Ganzhou, was founded through the merging of its key subsidiary Ganzhou Rare Earth Mineral Industry Co., Ltd. and some local rare earth companies, including Longnan Wanbao Rare Earth Co.
Thirty-six percent of China's middle and heavy rare earth reserves are in Ganzhou, which has experienced overexploitation since the end of the 1970s.
"From now on, Ganzhou will step up efforts to facilitate the merging and restructuring of the rare earth industry," said Liu Jianping, vice mayor of Ganzhou.
As the only prospector in Ganzhou,the group will be involved in rare earth mining, smelting, processing and trade.
In 2012, the sales revenues of the rare earth industry in Ganzhou reached 34 billion yuan (about 5.44 billion U.S. dollars), acccounting for one-third of the industry's revenues nationwide, according to Ma Rongzhang, secretary-general of the China Rare Earth Industry Association.
As the world's largest rare earth supplier, China serves more than 90 percent of global demand for rare earth metals, a group of 17 elements that are necessary to manufacture high-tech products ranging from flatscreen TVs to lasers and hybrid cars.
However, the country holds only 23 percent of the world's rare earth reserves. Decades of excessive exploitation have greatly damaged the environment.
In January, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), along with 11 other authorities, said in a guideline that the government is encouraging mergers in the auto, steel, cement, shipbuilding, electrolytic aluminum, rare earth, electronic information, pharmaceutical and agriculture sectors.
The government will slash the number of rare earth firms through mergers and concentrate production capacity, the guideline says.
China's top rare earth producer, the Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech Co., announced last December that it would gain control of another 12 rare earth firms in order to form a megacompany.