China rare earths supplier suspends production

Oct 20, 2011 By JOE McDONALD , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- China's biggest producer of rare earths is suspending production for one month in hopes of boosting slumping prices of the exotic minerals used in mobile phones and other high-tech products.

This week's move by Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech might fuel tensions with the and Europe. They have questioned Beijing's decision announced earlier to limit exports while it tries to develop its own manufacturers of magnets and other products made of rare earths.

In a statement through the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Baotou Steel said it wants to "balance supply and demand" after prices for rare earths fell amid uncertainty about the U.S. and European economic outlooks.

Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals used in manufacturing flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, batteries for , and weaponry.

China has about 30 percent of global rare earth deposits but accounts for 97 percent of production. has alarmed global manufacturers by reducing exports, prompting pressure from Europe and the United States to treat foreign and domestic buyers equally.

In China, prices of some rare earths have fallen sharply since June.

The price of neodymium oxide has declined 34 percent to $157 per , while europium oxide is down 35 percent at $2,904 per kilogram, according to Lynas Corp., an Australian rare earth producer.

Beijing is merging its rare earths producers to tighten control over production, sales and pricing.

It announced in June that Baotou Steel would become the only miner, refiner and seller of rare earths in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, a production center. It said 35 other companies there would be merged or closed.

Sichuan province in the southwest and Shandong in the east also have abundant rare earths deposits.

The United States, Canada and Australia also have rare earths but stopped mining them in the 1990s as lower-cost Chinese ores flooded the market.

Since then, have been concerned that uncontrolled exports were allowing Western and Japanese producers of lightweight magnets and other products made of rare earths to capture most of the profits.

Companies are restarting production in Canada, California, Russia and elsewhere but it will be some time until those supplies make it to market.

In September, China's Ministry of Land and Resources ordered a further tightening of controls on exploration, mining and sales of , which it called China's "21st century treasure trove of new materials."

Explore further: China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

More information: Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech: http://www.reht.com

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China to raise rare earths production this year

Mar 31, 2011

(AP) -- China said Thursday it will increase this year's production quota for rare earths but gave no sign it might reverse plans to cut exports of the exotic metals needed by high-tech industry.

China announces shakeup of rare earths industry

Feb 16, 2011

(AP) -- China plans to tighten control over rare earths producers and restrict output in a five-year development strategy, the Cabinet said Wednesday, amid concern abroad about plans to reduce exports of the exotic minerals ...

China plans restructure of rare earths industry

Jun 08, 2011

(AP) -- China is giving its biggest, state-owned rare earths miner and producer a monopoly for the northern part of the country in reforms aimed at bringing the strategically important sector that's crucial to advanced manufacturing ...

European envoy: China may alter rare earths policy

Jul 14, 2011

(AP) -- A European trade envoy said Chinese officials indicated Thursday that Beijing might change its curbs on exports of rare earths after a World Trade Organization panel rejected similar restrictions on other metals.

China says rare earths not a 'bargaining tool'

Oct 28, 2010

(AP) -- China said Thursday it will not use exports of rare earths, exotic minerals required by high-tech industry, as a diplomatic "bargaining tool" while Washington pressed Beijing to clarify its policy following its de ...

China tries to calm unease over rare earths curbs

Sep 03, 2009

(AP) -- A Chinese official tried to calm unease about curbs on exports of rare earths used in clean energy products and superconductors, saying Thursday that sales will continue but must be limited to reduce damage to China's ...

Recommended for you

China's Xiaomi raises more than $1 bn in funding

2 hours ago

China's top smartphone seller Xiaomi Corp. is raising more than $1 billion in a fresh round of funding, a move which would raise its valuation above $45 billion, a report said Sunday.

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

Dec 20, 2014

Japan's biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, featured a story about Sony Corp. on its website Friday. It wasn't about hacking. It was about the company's struggling tablet business.

Sony faces 4th ex-employee lawsuit over hack

Dec 20, 2014

A former director of technology for Sony Pictures Entertainment has sued the company over the data breach that resulted in the online posting of his private financial and personal information.

Sony tells AFP it still plans movie release

Dec 20, 2014

Sony Pictures boss Michael Lynton denied Friday the Hollywood studio has "caved" by canceling the release of "The Interview," and said it still hoped to release the controversial film.

2012 movie massacre hung over 'Interview' decision

Dec 19, 2014

When a group claiming credit for the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment threated violence against theaters showing "The Interview" earlier this week, the fate of the movie's big-screen life was all but ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
4.5 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
I'm boycotting China over this and the many other trade restrictions for US producers to sell there.

By American whenever possible.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Oct 22, 2011
I though rare earths were, well, rare.
Prices are slumping? How can this be?
FrankHerbert
2.3 / 5 (9) Oct 22, 2011
Marjon, your understanding of language is poor as evidenced by virtually every post you've ever made.

Rare earths are rare in the sense that national socialists are socialists. Get it?
CHollman82
3 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
I though rare earths were, well, rare.
Prices are slumping? How can this be?


Price is determined by both supply and demand... Did you graduate high school?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.