Rare Earths MMI®: WTO Upholds Chinese Rare Earths Ruling

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The World Trade Organization has upheld a ruling that China violated trade rules with restrictions on the export of rare earths, the minerals used in mobile phones, hybrid cars and other high-tech products.

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In March, the WTO dispute settlement panel found that China’s restrictions breach WTO rules. Its ruling followed complaints by the United States, the European Union and Japan.

In its ruling Thursday, the Geneva-based WTO’s appellate panel rejected Beijing’s appeal, saying it hasn’t demonstrated that the export quotas that China applies to various forms of rare earths are justified.

China has about one-third of global deposits of rare earths but accounts for more than 90 percent of production. In 2009, it alarmed foreign companies by limiting rare earth exports in an attempt to boost its domestic manufacturing base.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman said that Thursday’s decision “marks the end of the line” for the rare earths dispute.

“By upholding rules on fair access to raw materials, this decision is a win not only for the United Sates, but also for every nation that respects the principles of openness and fairness,” Froman said.

In a statement, China’s Ministry of Commerce expressed regret about the ruling and repeated its arguments that the controls were aimed at protecting the environment and conserving resources.

With a 3.3 percent increase over the past week, praseodymium neodymium oxide was the biggest mover on the weekly Rare Earths MMI®. After a 2.8 percent decline, cerium oxide closed out the week at CNY 17,500 ($2,841) per metric ton. Praseodymium oxide saw a 0.9 percent decline over the past week to CNY 575,000 ($93,358) per metric ton.

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Dysprosium oxide prices ticked up 0.7 percent over the past week to CNY 1,460 ($237.05) per kilogram. Following a steady week, prices for europium oxide closed flat at CNY 3,100 ($503.32) per kilogram. Europium oxide prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 3,100 ($503.32) per kilogram. Lanthanum oxide traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 18,000 ($2,923) per metric ton.

At CNY 300,000 ($48,708) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for neodymium oxide. At CNY 25,000 ($4,059) per metric ton, the price of rare earth carbonate did not change since the previous week. Samarium oxide remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 18,500 ($3,004) per metric ton. At CNY 4,200 ($681.92) per kilogram, the week finished with no movement for terbium metal.

Terbium oxide prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 2,800 ($454.61) per kilogram. Yttria traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 42,000 ($6,819) per metric ton. Following a steady week, prices for yttrium closed flat at CNY 280.00 ($45.46) per kilogram.

The Rare Earths MMI® collects and weights 14 global rare earth metal price points to provide a unique view into rare earth metal price trends. For more information on the Rare Earths MMI®, how it’s calculated or how your company can use the index, please drop us a note at: info (at) agmetalminer (dot) com.

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