Geologists have discovered a large reserve of rare earths, which are vital for production of many high-tech products ranging from iPods to hybrid cars, in Central China's Hubei province, local authorities confirmed Thursday.
The newly-found deposit sits at the foot of Mt. Laoyin in Longba Township of Zhuxi County, in Shiyan City, a spokesman with the Hubei Provincial Land and Resources Department said.
"Geologists are investigating the make-up, structure, quality, size of the reserve," the spokesman said.
Before the discovery, geologists had also found deposits of rare earths in 12 places in Zhushan, another county in Shiyan, he said.
Local authorities were yet to tap the rich geological resources.
"We are drawing up plans and measures to prevent the rare earths resources from being illegally mined," the spokesman added.
Rare earths, a class of 17 chemical elements that include minerals such as dysprosium, terbium, thulium, lutetium and yttrium, are widely used in the fields of the most sophisticated science and technologies like electronics, aviation, atomic energy, and mechanical manufacturing.
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China has the largest reserves of rare earths in the country, or about 75 percent.
China is the world's largest rare earth producer, supplying more than 90 percent of the global demand.
China has stressed the sustainable development of rare earths mining.
"What we pursue is to satisfy not only the domestic demand but also the global demand of rare earths. We should not only stand from the present, but should also look forward to the future," Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday at the sixth China-EU Business Summit in Brussels.
Wen also reaffirmed that proper control and regulations were important and that China would not close the market.
"If the rare earths minerals were used up, how would the world and China deal with the problem?" he said.