National Plan for Mineral Resources (2016-2020)

Last updated: 30 October 2022

The Plan maps out the development direction of China's mineral resources exploration, utilisation, and protection. It is the blueprint for China's mineral resources management reform and mining economic development from 2016 to 2020.  
To do this, the Plan classifies four types of minerals and the strategic objectives for each classification, namely:

  • to encourage exploration of minerals in short supply 
  • to regulate the amount of minerals with traditional advantages
  • to cut production of minerals with excess capacity
  • to ensure supply of minerals in strategic emerging industries 

It also created a strategic mineral catalogue listing the following as important minerals:

  1. Energy minerals: Oil, gas, shale gas, coal, coal bed methane, uranium;
  2. Ferrous minerals: Iron, chromium, copper, aluminium, gold, nickel, tungsten, tin, molybdenum, antimony, cobalt, lithium, rare earths, zirconium; and
  3. Non-ferrous minerals: Phosphorus, potash, crystalline graphite, fluorite.

It specifically recognises the importance of rare earths. In order to strictly control the exploitation of rare earths, the Plan proposes to:

  • Continue implementing the control system for tungsten and rare earths exploitation;
  • Establish the dynamic balance mechanism between rare earth mining consumption and new reserves; 
  • Accelerate the development of traceability system.

By 2020, the total amount of rare earths exploitation (rare earth oxides, REO) should be controlled at 140,000 tons per year.
The Plan encourages international cooperation, especially in the Belt and Road Region, China-Latin America and China-Africa. It actively promotes policy dialogue with multilateral organisations such as APEC and World Bank. Under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Plan focuses on oil and gas, iron, copper, aluminium and other minerals, explores the "mining, electricity, water, road and port" joint investment model and develops a number of environmentally friendly production capacity projects in petrochemical, iron and steel, non-ferrous etc. 

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