The coronoavirus outbreak isn’t damping appetite for rare-earth minerals in China. The country has increased the first batch of mining quotas for the strategic materials used in everything from electric vehicles to military hardware.
The quota for six dominant producers, including China Northern Rare Earth Group High-Tech, was set at 66 000 t, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement on Wednesday. That is half of last year’s total of 132 000 t, and 10% higher than the 60 000 t in the first batch in 2019.
China, which issues two batches of quotas every year, boosted the annual rare-earth mining quotas to a record high last year as domestic demand for the minerals rose. This year’s second-batch quota will be issued in the second quarter, according to the ministry. The annual total will be capped below 140 000 t to preserve the resource, under the government’s five-year plan for 2016 to 2020.
Rare earths were thrust into the spotlight last year on speculation China may restrict exports as part of its trade war with the U.S.
The ministry also set the first batch of tungsten concentrate mining quotas for 2020 at 52 500 t.