All 11 companies have passed environmental inspections. Quotas have been reserved for other rare earth enterprises but will not be released until they pass environmental inspections, an unnamed official at the ministry said.
Next year’s rare earth quotas will remain unchanged from 2011 in order to guarantee international market demand and maintain a stable supply of rare earth, the official said.
China’s rare earth exports totaled 14,750 tonnes during the first 11 months of 2011, accounting for 49 percent of the country’s total export quotas.
Rare earths – a group of 17 elements – are metals widely used in high-tech products ranging from flat-screen televisions to wind turbines and electric cars.
China’s rare earth sales account for nearly 90 percent of the global total. However, decades of excessive exploitation have resulted in serious environmental damage.
The country has been tightening control of rare earth supply by restricting output and exports, adopting stringent environmental standards and launching crackdowns on illegal mining activities.