E.China's Jiangxi to step up crackdown on illegal mining of strategic minerals
Published: Mar 12, 2023 08:55 PM
A large open-pit copper mine in Dexing, East China's Jiangxi Province File photo: VCG

A large open-pit copper mine in Dexing, East China's Jiangxi Province File photo: VCG

East China's Jiangxi Province, a major rare-earths production base, has issued a plan to crack down on illegal mining of strategic minerals such as lithium and rare earths, in a bid to promote the high-quality development of the mining sector. 

The move came after illegal mining activities of lithium in Yichun and other places in the province were exposed and drew widespread criticism. 

The province will implement special actions such as strict approval of mining rights, and they will strengthen the supervision of the whole process of mining.

The government will focus on the rectification of the development and utilization of mineral resources, especially tungsten, rare earths, lithium and other strategic mineral resources. 

The goal is to curb illegal activities such as unlicensed exploration and mining, indiscriminate mining, waste of mineral resources, and the illegal occupation of arable land, forest land and nature reserves.

The province will investigate and address illegal transfers of mining rights and cross-border mining. Through this special action, the province's awareness of running and managing mines will be further enhanced, read the plan.

The plan mandates faster construction of green mines, stronger ecological restoration of mines, regulated production and operation of mining enterprises, and security of the industry and supply chains.

The special action will run through the end of October 2023, striving to achieve a significant improvement in the order of mineral resources exploration and development, the mining ecological environment, and the layout of the industry and supply chain. 

"The plan indicates that China has strengthened the importance of protecting mineral resources, and the country will strictly punish illegal and unplanned mining of rare earths and other resources," Wu Chenhui, an independent industry analyst who follows the rare-earth industry, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Jiangxi is home to major reserves of non-ferrous metals and rare metal ores. According to the statistics from the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2021, the province has 6.66 million tons of copper ore reserves, 1.21 million tons of lead ore reserves and 1.87 million tons of zinc ore reserves.

Yichun, with the world's largest reserves of lithium mica ore, is called "Asia's lithium capital." 

However, at the beginning of this year, some media outlets reported that local people were extracting the "white stone," an alternative name for lepidolite, the raw material of lithium, to sell it in the burgeoning new-energy industry. 

The investigation led to a thorough scrutiny of the mining sector in the region, with some miners suspended from operation indefinitely.

Wu noted that the increased protection of local resources such as tungsten, rare earths and lithium will help ensure healthy development of the local mining industry.

"Green and sustainable development of the industry should be in accordance with national development goals, so the regulation is needed to promote the healthier development of the industry," Wu said.

Global Times