Rare Earth Metals Price Index Rises for First Time in 15 Months

MetalMiner‘s monthly Rare Earths MMI® rose for the first time in 15 long months – the last increase being from September to October 2013 – and registered a value of 24 in January, an increase of 4.3% from 23 in December.


Counterintuitively, it has recently been reported that China has cut its rare earths export quotas entirely after losing the WTO case last year. So it appears that as soon as our rare earths price index has finally risen (which of course has, as we’ve learned, little to do directly with quotas or taxes), even more supply of light and heavy rare earths from China may flood the market.

Back in April 2014, in an interview with MetalMiner, Zachary Schumacher, rare earths analyst for Asian Metal, called the continued downslide of prices:

Regarding future prices, the WTO case is “likely to bring down prices a bit over the medium to long term by some reasonable margin – but the consumers in the US are going to keep buying as much as they need only rarely, sometimes more, to hold material in stock,” he said.

A few rare earth metals, such as praseodymium oxide, terbium and europium, and lanthanum and cerium, are more likely to be hit price-wise over others, but more due to other market forces outside of the WTO case. (These include poor demand in end-use markets, among other things.)

As reflected by our index, this sustained decline in prices has proven to be true.

Wildcard: China Stockpiles

Another good point that Schumacher brought up – the rumors of a national Chinese stockpile of rare earth oxides, especially the heavy RE oxides – is a more impactful factor right now, according to him. “The biggest impact the WTO case has is it makes it so much harder to justify for investors to purchase stocks of JV mining companies now that the Chinese won’t have quota power over the long term,” he said back in April.

Yet another forecast come true: China’s quota power looks like it has indeed come to an end.

Key Rare Earths Price Movements This Month

For the second month in a row, the price of terbium oxide increased, rising 8.6% over the past month to $507.70 per kilogram. The price of terbium metal rose 5.3% over the past month to $644.69 per kilogram. The price of neodymium oxide rose 3.4% to $44,323 per metric ton after falling the previous month. After dropping the previous month, the price of praseodymium neodymium oxide prices rose 3.3% to $45,934 per metric ton. The price of neodymium rose 2.0% to $56,733 per metric ton after falling the previous month. The price of dysprosium oxide closed the month up 2.0% at $249.82 per kilogram.

A 13.2% decline for europium oxide left the price at CNY 1,650 ($265.57) per kilogram. Praseodymium oxide prices dropped by 4.7% this month to $66,081 per metric ton.

Last month was consistent for yttria, which did not move from $5,480 per metric ton. Rare earth carbonate held pat last month at $4,029 per metric ton. Yttrium experienced a flat month, staying around $43.52 per kilogram. Hovering around $2,015 per metric ton for the month, cerium oxide remained unchanged. At a price of $2,095 per metric ton, lanthanum oxide did not budge the entire month. The price of samarium oxide held steady around $2,740 per metric ton 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.

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