The Rare Earths Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped 4.3% this month.
Lynas halts operations in Malaysia
Australian rare earths miner and processor Lynas Corporation — the largest outside of China — in March announced a temporary suspension of its operations in Malaysia.
The suspension came on the heels of Malaysian government orders aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases.
“As a responsible business, Lynas has taken steps to ensure the health and safety of our people and our communities and we support the government’s actions to control the outbreak,” the company said. “Accordingly, we have initiated a safe temporary shutdown of our plant into care and maintenance mode.
“As part of the safe temporary shutdown, we have retained some work-in-progress inventory that will allow us to ramp up quickly upon restart. Mt Weld will continue to operate during this period.
“We have taken actions to significantly reduce cash outgoings during the temporary shutdown. We will continue to pay all our staff during this time.”
Then, on March 31, Lynas issued a statement on the heels of the Malaysian government’s extension of movement restrictions to April 14.
“At all times during the period the Lynas Malaysia plant is in care and maintenance and after the Lynas Malaysia plant resumes production, our number one priority will continue to be the health and safety of our people and our local communities,” Lynas said. “We will continue to follow all guidelines of the Malaysian government, including the Ministry of Health, and we are proud of our long track record of safe and compliant operations.
“When the initial shutdown period was announced on 23 March 2020, we were already prudently planning for the possibility of a longer shutdown and our announcement dated 23 March 2020 contained details of our strong financial position and the prudent financial measures that we have implemented.”
China to build rare earths R&D center
China, the leading producer of rare earths in the world, has plans to develop an innovation center in which research and development will be conducted with rare earths materials, state-run news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.
The new center will “focus on the R&D and manufacturing of new rare earths materials and high-tech rare earths functional materials,” according to a statement by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) cited by Xinhua.
Guorui Sci-tech Rare-earth Functional Materials Co. will operate the innovation center, Xinhua reported.
Actual metals prices and trends
The Chinese yttrium price fell 1.3% month over month to $31.77/kg as of April 1. Terbium oxide fell 5.6% to $570.45/kg.
Neodymium oxide fell 4.6% to $40,594.79/mt.
Europium oxide fell 1.3% to $29.65/kg. Dysprosium oxide fell 4.0% to $253.45/kg.