CNET reported on the rare earth extraction process, commenting that Molycorp Inc. (NYSE:MCP) is developing a more environmentally-friendly way to remove the minerals from the ground. China is also in the midst of stepping up its environmental regulations for rare earth mining, and this action from Molycorp may prompt it to do so more quickly.

As quoted in the market news:

Molycorp’s [chief executive, Mark Smith,] believes his company can rewrite the way vital rare-earth minerals are mined and processed.

The company has come up with a proprietary method that it believes is the answer to the toxic mess that’s defined much of the world’s rare-earth mining. And if Molycorp executives are correct, they may be modernizing rare-earth mining in a way that could force Chinese competitors to improve the way they operate.

The Chinese government has also increased efforts to reduce the ecological damage of rare-earth mining. It’s instituted quotas and restricted exports of the minerals in recent years, in part because the government has ramped up environmental oversight, though many suspect the move was also intended to drive up prices.

“There are a lot of things that the rare-earth industry should not be proud of over there,” Molycorp’s Smith said about the environmental mess in China. “But I’ll give China credit. They are stepping up their environmental regulation.”

Click here to read the full CNET report.