China Says Domestic Competition Hurting Rare Earth Prices


Chinas rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used in military equipment and consumer electronics, are being undersold due to vicious competition domestically and face low resource utilisation, the countrys industry minister said on Monday.

Prices for some rare earths in China, such as praseodymiumneodymium PrNd used in rare earth magnets have spiked to multiyear highs this year amid strong demand from the electric vehicle sector.

However, prices for other rare earths mined simultaneously, such as cerium and lanthanum, used in catalysts for oil refining, remain depressed due to abundant supply.

Our rare earths did not sell at the rare price but sold at the earth price… because of competitive bidding, which wasted the precious resource, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing said during a news briefing.

A heavy reliance on China, the worlds top producer of rare earths, has led the United States to order a review of its supply chain for the minerals.

Shipments of rare earth magnets from China to the United States hit 585 tonnes in December, the highest since at least 2016, according to Chinese customs data. Chinas overall rare earth exports last year were the lowest since 2015 amid coronavirushit demand overseas.

Chinas industry ministry proposed in January tightening regulation of the rare earth sector, including a stipulation that importers and exporters abide by foreign trade and export control laws.

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