China cuts 2012 rare earths export quota

Dec 28, 2011 By JOE McDONALD , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- China announced a cut Tuesday in its rare earths export quota as it tries to shore up sagging prices for the exotic metals used in mobile phones and other high-tech goods.

China accounts for 97 percent of rare earth output and its 2009 decision to curb exports while it builds up an industry to create products made with them alarmed foreign companies that depend on Chinese supplies.

In its latest quota, the Commerce Ministry said exporters will be allowed to sell 10,546 tons of rare earths in the first half of 2012. That is a 27 percent reduction from the quota for the first half of 2011.

China's export restrictions have strained relations with the United States the , Japan and other governments that have called on to remove its curbs and make its intentions clear.

Despite production and expor curbs, rare earths prices in China have tumbled as U.S. and European dent demand for its exports. The government ordered its biggest producer to suspend output for a month in October to shore up prices.

But the restrictions have made rare earths much mor expensive abroad, giving Chinese makers of products that use them a price advantage and foreign manufacturers an incentive to shift operations to China.

In a sign of unusually weak demand, the Commerce Ministry said actual Chinese exports of rare earths in 2011 totaled 14,750 tons for the first 11 months of 2011 - the equivalent of just 49 percent of the total annual quota.

In another possible move to tighten control over exports, the ministry's announcement Tuesday said only 11 companies will be allowed to sell abroad. That is down from 26 companies given licences for the first half of 2011.

Rare earths are 17 elements including cerium, dysprosium and lanthanum that are used in manufacturing flat-screen TVs, batteries for and . They also used in some high-tech weapons.

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.

Surging demand has prompted ccompanies in Canada, California, India, Malaysia, Russia and other other countries to develop rare earths mines, some of which are expected to start producing by 2015.

Prices in China have fallen sharply since August, declining by 45 percent for neodymium oxide, by 33 percent for terbium oxide and by 31 percent for lanthanum oxide, according to Lynas Corp., an Australian rare earths producer.

Its figures showed an equally striking gap between prices in China and abroad, with oxide costing triple the Chinese level on global markets, neodymium more than twice as much and terbium oxide near twice as much.

Explore further: Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

4.8 /5 (6 votes)
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 rare earths supplier suspends production

Oct 20, 2011

(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.

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 ...

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

Why the Sony hack isn't big news in Japan

2 hours ago

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

7 hours ago

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

8 hours ago

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

22 hours ago

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 ...

Clooney slams skittish Hollywood after Sony hack

Dec 19, 2014

Film star George Clooney slammed the Hollywood movie industry for failing to stand up against the cyber threats that prompted Sony Pictures to cancel release of the movie "The Interview."

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

plasticpower
5 / 5 (2) Dec 28, 2011
"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."

Wow, way to think ahead and let one country become a monopoly..
Callippo
4 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2011
I see..;-) It fits well the recent decision of Western countries to replace the incandescent lamps with these fluorescent ones..
rwinners
not rated yet Dec 29, 2011
Time for the US to put all rare earths on a national priority list and to subsidize production. If the Chinese ever resume full levels of exports, we can charge them with dumping and market manipulation in the world courts.

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.