Rare Earths MMI® Falls 10%, New Demand Not Materializing

The monthly Rare Earths MMI® registered a value of 18 in September, a decrease of 10% from 20 in August.

Rare-Earths_Chart_September-2015_FNLThe story in magnets, batteries and other high-tech uses that rare earths are needed for has been one of slow and steady decline and while this new all-time low is steeper than many others we’ve tracked… it’s not unexpected.

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The battered rare earths market is receiving no support from the bearish market commodities market, overall, and, as we have documented before, substitution of light rare earths has been going on for years and further eroding demand.

This month, the only US-based rare earths producer, Molycorp, Inc., suspended production at its Mountain Pass mine in California and will now source its elements only from Estonia and China. This was another expected move as Molycorp entered chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this summer and was looking to cut costs.

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The rare earths market has been oversupplied ever since China removed export quotas on its producers, the bulk of the industry, and it’s difficult to predict a price turnaround without major shutdowns overseas or a shift in the muted demand picture.

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Europium oxide prices dropped by 14.0% this month to $134.74 per kilogram. The price of terbium oxide closed the month at $391.68 per kilogram after dropping 12.3%. After falling 6.1%, praseodymium oxide finished the month at $48,569 per metric ton. A 6.0% decline for neodymium left the price at CNY 315,000 ($49,352) per metric ton. A 5.8% drop over the past month left neodymium oxide at $35,408 per metric ton. Terbium metal prices fell 5.2% to $571.86 per kilogram. Following a 4.0% decline in price, lanthanum oxide finished the month at $1,880 per metric ton. The price of praseodymium neodymium oxide fell 3.8% to $35,408 per metric ton. At $1,739 per metric ton, cerium oxide was down 3.5% for the month. Following a 3.3% decline in price, yttria finished the month at $4,544 per metric ton. After falling 3.1%, dysprosium oxide finished the month at $195.84 per kilogram.

Hovering around $3,917 per metric ton for the month, rare earth carbonate remained unchanged. The price of samarium oxide held steady around $2,193 per metric ton last month. Last month was consistent for yttrium, which did not move from $37.60 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 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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