Provincial and local officials in China's Guangdong Province have busted illegal rare earth mining operations, recovering 1,000 tonnes of illegally mined rare earths, as well as arresting 50 suspects.
China Daily reported the Government of Lianping County, Heyuan City, Guangdong Province, said it received a tip that led to the discovery of two warehouses and a factory in two villages of Zhongxin town that were reportedly illegally storing and processing rare earths. Four people were arrested,
The Longchuan county government raided nine outlets that were illegally mining, processing or trading rare earth in Heyuan city, and seized more than 100 tons of fully or partly processed rare earth products. Forty-five suspects and one official alleged to have shielded the criminal activities were taken into custody.
Meanwhile, the deputy director of Guangdong Province's Department of Land and Resources told China Daily his team supervised a crackdown at an illegal rare earth mining site in Potou town, Lianping County.
The mines are spread across a large area in Guangdong, which makes them difficult to monitor for illegal activities, especially since illegal mining and smuggling of rare earths generate high profits, said Xiao Fangming, director of the Guangzhou Research Institute of Non-Ferrous Minerals.
Xiao has suggested strengthening the monitor of the rare earth separating plants in the province, which have a total combined capacity of 15,000 metric tons annually.
The government has approved the mining of 2,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides a year in Guangdong, but actual production surpassed 40,000 metric tons because of illegal mining.