JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The updated 2012 rare earths export quotas China published on Thursday implied a total of 31 438 t for the year, a slight increase on 2011’s figure, consultancy Technology Metals Research (TMR) said.
The Ministry of Commerce (Mofcom) in December announced a first round of export allocations of 24 904 t for company’s in 2012, telling them it would allow them to export more, provided they met certain environmental requirements by July.
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, earlier in May, published a list of the companies that had passed pollution control inspections.
According to TMR founding principal Gareth Hatch, Thursday’s Mofcom announcement only included minor adjustments to the companies that had confirmed export allocations.
The December allocation provided for 80% of the 2012 export allocations in the first round, with the remaining 20% to be announced in the Chinese summer.
Rare earths, the group of 17 elements critical to manufacturing items such as smart phones, hybrid cars and guided missiles, became the subject of a World Trade Organisation complaint the US, the European Union and Japan filed earlier this year.
China accounts for over 95% of global supplies, and the complainants argue the country is unfairly abusing its dominant position to boost its own industries.
New York-based Dahlman Rose & Co said in a note on Thursday, minor changes in the Chinese rare earths sector, such as consolidation, should support rare-earth prices over the medium to long term, despite a fall-off last year.
“It is possible that prices decline further in 2013 when two new sources of supply commence, but over the near-term, we expect to hear of further project delays and the possibility that numerous development-stage companies are giving up their development plans,” the analysts said.