China discovers new rare-earth mineral, named after a senior Chinese mineralogist
Published: Feb 14, 2023 03:03 PM
The yuchuanite-(Y)

The yuchuanite-(Y)

China recently discovered a new rare-earth mineral in South China's Guangdong Province, which was named after a senior Chinese mineralogist Chen Yuchuan, further supporting rare-earth resources exploration in the region. 

According to the official website of the Institute of Mineral Resources under Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (CAGS), the new mineral named yuchuanite-(Y) was discovered by Liu Peng, researcher of CAGS and associate professor of State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics under Northwest University (NWU), in Yushui copper mine which is located in northeastern Guangdong Province. 

The new mineral was co-submitted by research groups from CAGS and NWU to the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification of the International Mineralogical Association, which was officially approved and numbered as IMA2022-120. 

The research team said that the discovery of yuchuanite-(Y) enriched the formation types of rare-earth minerals, which also provides evidence to support further exploration of rare- earth mineral resources in southwestern China. 

Rare earths are important strategic resources and key elements in the development of high and new technology and green applications.

China leads the world's rare-earth sector in terms of production and refining technologies. According to the US Geological Survey, China accounted for 58 percent of rare-earth production worldwide in 2020, down from around 90 percent some four years ago as the US and Australia gradually boosted production.

In 2021, China set up the China Rare Earth Group Co through the merging of several key producers of rare-earth minerals, a move that marked China's determination not to squander the precious resources and, instead, use them in more strategic industries such as semiconductors.

China's state-owned rare-earth giants, China Rare Earth Group Co and GRINM Group Corp, signed an agreement in July 2022 to  set up a joint rare-earth innovation hub to push for high-quality development in the rare-earth industry.

Amid growing geopolitical tensions, some countries including the US and the EU are mulling means to reduce their reliance on China's rare-earth products. However, experts said that it is tough to shake off reliance on China, given multiple advantages such as relatively cheap raw materials and labor costs, world-leading technologies such as earth separation, and a wide product range.

According to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Monday, China exported 37,867.1 tons of rare-earth minerals during the first three quarters of the year, up 6.3 percent on a yearly basis.

Global Times