Well, looks like Lynas Corp. has been granted a full license for its Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) operating in Kuantan, Malaysia, amidst much civilian protest – but that actually seems moot in light of recent news.
MetalMiner’s monthly Rare Earths MMI® registered a value of 27 in September, the second straight month of the lowest-ever reading for this index. Which means mainly one thing – that there must still be a load of over-supplied material out there, especially cerium and lanthanum, and buyers know it. (It’s no surprise that this month, cerium oxide and lanthanum oxide were the two Biggest Losers within the MMI – see below.) Not only that, but substitutes for REEs have penetrated the markets in the wake of the 2010 price bubble, which won’t really help support RE prices.
Interestingly, we found an infographic via The Visual Capitalist that partially explains why, from a fundamental supply/demand perspective, rare earth prices could actually remain depressed for, um, the rest of time as we know it:
Seems as though rare earths can last us a pretty long, long time: according to the analysis performed for the purposes of the infographic, using myriad sources and calculated based on reserves, undiscovered resources and existing resource base, if rare earths production were to remain static, REEs would satisfy the world until the year 2856! If production continues at current rates, they’d last until about 2075 – still blowing the staying power of other resource commodities out of the water by a large margin.
That means that if you were born in 2010, you’d still be able to use your rare-earths driven iPhone 639 or whatnot at the senior citizens home at which you’d be whiling away your days.
So what gives?
The truth is, as we’ve been reporting for years, that although China has a “grip” on the rare earths market, there are huge stockpiles of the stuff out there, and more to the point, ways to get around China’s export quotas, etc. Production increases by the likes of Lynas Corp. or Molycorp may help buyers avoid the Chinese supply chain entirely – but if the basic economics of the market are looking increasingly unsound for Western producers to make money, with their products further saturating world supply, will it matter?
Just goes to show once again that industrial metal markets are truly global.
Key Monthly Rare Earths Price Movements
Cerium oxide prices fell 16.7 percent to $2,442 per metric ton. The price of lanthanum oxide closed the month at $2,605 per metric ton after dropping 11.1 percent. After falling 8.6 percent, praseodymium oxide finished the month at $86,293 per metric ton. Europium oxide prices dropped by 6.5 percent this month to $472.17 per kilogram. At $6,513 per metric ton, yttria was down 4.8 percent for the month. Last month, neodymium oxide prices dropped by 1.7 percent to $48,031 per metric ton.
Following a 3.3 percent change in price, praseodymium neodymium oxide closed the month at $51,287 per metric ton. Dysprosium oxide rose 0.7 percent to $237.71 per kilogram.
Terbium metal held pat last month at $683.83 per kilogram. Hovering around $3,012 per metric ton for the month, samarium oxide remained unchanged. Last month was consistent for rare earth carbonate, which did not move from $4,070 per metric ton. At a price of $63,499 per metric ton, neodymium did not budge the entire month. Hovering around $455.89 per kilogram for the month, terbium oxide remained unchanged. The price of yttrium held steady around $45.59 per kilogram last month.
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 over a 30-day period. 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.