BEIJING, April 8 (Xinhua) -- China's rare earth industry set up an association on Sunday with the aim of spurring healthy development in the sector.
The association, consisting of 155 members that include industry giants Aluminum Corporation of China and China Minmetals Corporation, was formed to promote sustainable and sound development in the sector, said Su Bo, vice minister of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) which governs the association.
Gan Yong, now an academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and also president of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, will be the president of the association.
He said the association will work to form a reasonable price mechanism and to create a win-win situation for developers and consumers through its coordination efforts.
Members of the association range across the industrial chain, including mining, smelting and splitting, which will make communications and negotiations easier within the association.
The association also said it will actively provide support and services for relevant departments and local governments, help maintain order in the sector, facilitate exchange and cooperation between enterprises to spur innovation, and coordinate efforts to cope with international trade frictions and disputes.
China has announced production caps, stricter environmental standards and an export quota system for rare earth metals in recent years.
But the moves have triggered protests from several countries who claim that China is using the precious metals, which are used to manufacture an array of high-tech goods, as a political bargaining chip.
In the latest dispute, the European Union, United States and Japan formally last month asked the WTO to settle a dispute with China over restrictions placed on exports of raw materials including rare earth elements.
Asked about the recurring frictions, Gan said the newly found association will help deepen international communications and "properly" handle the trade disputes according to international standards and WTO rules.
Meanwhile, Gan promised to shoulder due responsibilities to protect the environment as the country's rare earth exploitation has "owed too much to environment."
The country supplies more than 90 percent of rare earth products on the global market, but its reserves only account for about one-third of the world's total.
"Many countries in the world have rare earth reserves, you cannot rely on China alone to provide all the supplies," he said.