Rare Earths MMI®: China Eases Export Controls, Could Lead to Price Volatility

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The global market for rare earths is approaching a critical juncture as China, the world’s largest producer, reshapes its export and production policies after losing a WTO trade case brought by the US, EU and Japan.

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China is likely to ease controls on its exports in a move that could lead to increased volatility in the price of these strategic materials. At the same time, China will seek to pursue alternative measures to control rare earths production and exports. These could include reducing the number of producers to just 6 groups, making it easier for the government to control the industry, and replacing export tariffs with resource taxes on production.

Rare earths are used in applications ranging from defense systems to consumer electronics, magnets for the automotive sector and smart phones, so a shift in prices will have a clear impact on consumers.

And price changes will affect the rare earths supply balance. Mining companies outside China are developing dozens of projects to establish alternative rare earth supply chains.

Metals on the weekly Rare Earths MMI® held steady this week, including cerium oxide at CNY 15,000 ($2,418) per metric ton. Dysprosium oxide remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 1,450 ($233.70) per kilogram. Prices for europium oxide remained constant, closing the week at CNY 2,600 ($419.05) per kilogram.

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At CNY 16,000 ($2,579) per metric ton, the price of lanthanum oxide did not change since the previous week. Neodymium prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 375,000 ($60,439) per metric ton. At CNY 375,000 ($60,439) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for neodymium. Closing at CNY 295,000 ($47,546) per metric ton, neodymium oxide remained unchanged for the week.

Following a steady week, prices for praseodymium oxide closed flat at CNY 530,000 ($85,421) per metric ton. Rare earth carbonate traded sideways last week, hovering around CNY 25,000 ($4,029) per metric ton. Closing at CNY 18,500 ($2,982) per metric ton, samarium oxide remained unchanged for the week. Prices for terbium metal remained constant, closing the week at CNY 4,000 ($644.69) per kilogram.

Terbium oxide remained essentially flat from the previous week at CNY 2,800 ($451.28) per kilogram. At CNY 40,000 ($6,447) per metric ton, the week finished with no movement for yttria. Yttrium prices held steady from the previous week at CNY 270.00 ($43.52) 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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