China, which produces about 97 percent of the global supply of the metals used in the production of numerous high-tech products, cut its export quota by 35 percent for the first half of 2011 compared with a year earlier, saying it wanted to conserve reserves.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu reiterated at a regular news briefing in Beijing that the quotas were necessary for environmental protection.
Unlike an earlier cutback when China appeared to be putting political pressure on Japan, the current cutback may indeed have an environmental impetus, since many of the rare earth mineral mines in China are run by gangs with little environmental controls.
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