The Chinese government is attempting to support domestic businesses by shoring up rare earths market conditions.
This includes stepped up enforcement of environmental rules at rare-earth metal plants and crackdowns on illegal mining and smuggling.
Beijing carried out a series of spot inspections on environmental measures at factories last summer. Teams of experts tested wastewater and examined pollution-reduction measures at rare-earths smelting and separation plants. Operations at facilities that did not meet standards were suspended.
Those inspections covered a total of eight provinces and regions, such as Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu.
Japan is still wary of Chinese production due to a 2011 unofficial boycott of selling raw rare earths to the islands by Chinese producers. So much so that the Japanese have taken an interest in keeping Australian rare earths miner Lynas Corp. alive and helped it restructure its debts last month.
The Rare Earths MMI did not move for the sixth consecutive month, showing just how much the market has stabilized since the last China-Japan rare earths dust up.
Correction: A previous version of this post referenced a patent expiration this month for neodymium and cobalt motors. That patent expired in 2011 and was later rejected outright. We regret the error.
Actual Rare Earths Prices
Chinese neodymium prices increased to $47,351.99 per metric ton this month, up from $47,071.53/mt in November, an increase of .5%. Dysprosium oxide increased to $181.56 per kilogram this month, up from $178.55/kg in November, a increase of 1.7%.