Illegal rare earth mining is reportedly "rampant" in Guangdong Province, which damaged the forests and polluted the local environment.
Trees were toppled and villagers' farmland was contaminated. Recently, local residents voluntarily destroyed about a dozen illegal mining sites.
There are two chief reasons for the rampant illegal rare earth mining. For one thing, people can reap significant profits from it. Rare earths are crucial industrial ingredients and China's recent limitations on the exploitation of rare earth mines have caused prices to surge. Statistics shows that the price of rare earth metals has tripled since May, which attracted a lot of profiteers.
Moreover, there has been a lack of regulation and supervision on illegal mining so far. Specific regulations targeting illegal rare earth metal mining haven't been mapped out.
It has been reported that some officials from the local law enforcement departments, especially the forestry bureaus, have abused their power to approve the mining and profited from it.
Two problems brought by illegal mining are now threatening rare earth metal in China. The excessive mining lowers prices and the decrease in price in turn aggravated the mining problem as owners sought to make up a sudden gap in profits.
The current policy on rare earth mines focuses on protection and keeping the prices reasonable.
However, as China currently controls more than 95 percent of the world rare earth supply, the huge international demand heightens the risks of illegal mining, which not only wracks the production system but harms China's national interest as well.
Illegal rare earth mine sites have been exposed in many Chinese provinces. It seems that illegal miners have became active again recently.
In order to protect the precious resources, we need to standardize the market, set up specific regulations, improve the accountability system, and fight against corruption.
The Beijing Times