Friday, May 8, 2009

China tightens grip on rare earths

Follow-on posts below. Original post:
From The Australian:

THE late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said: "The Middle East has oil, China has rare earths".

Now his successors could add: "And we also have Australia's rare earths".

And that means China keeps its control of the global rare earths market - and allows it to call the tune on the future of a number of industries, including electronic and green technologies.

Rare earths came into their own with colour television - europium, for example, is necessary to have the colour red on your (TV and computer) screen; terbium produces the colour green. Dysprosium, for example, is necessary in the production of compact discs and can also be used in some nuclear control applications. Yttrium, among its many uses, has properties that allow it to be used in the transmission of acoustic energy. Batteries and magnets are other uses for rare earth elements.

But these elements have many military applications as well, which gives a political and strategic dimension to the announcement today that China Non-Ferrous Metal Mining will become the majority shareholder in Lynus Corp (LYC), a company which has the Mt Weld project in Western Australia, said to be the world’s richest undeveloped deposit of rare earths. The Chinese will commit a total of $500 million to Lynas, the first tranche being $US286 million to get Mt Weld into production at the rate of 10,500 tonnes a year of rare earth oxides.

It follows less that two months a deal which saw East China Exploration take a 25 per cent in the other main rare earths play, Arafura Resources (ARU). This company has rare earths at its Nolan’s project in the Northern Territory.

And both deals come against a background of China, which produces more than 90 per cent of the world’s rare earths, working to ensure that it maintains its stranglehold on those elements. Use foreign sources, and save our own, is Beijing’s policy. In February it again reduced the export quotas for its domestically produced rare earths: in 2004, Chinese miners were able to export 48,040 tonnes but this has been gradually reduced year by year so that 2009’s quota stands at 30,086 tonnes....MORE
From Xinhua, yesterday:

China puts ceiling on 2009 output of tungsten, antimony, rare earth
China said Thursday it would impose a ceiling on the output of mineral resources like tungsten, antimony and rare earth in 2009 amid shrinking demand.

The move is aimed to protect China's reserves of these minerals, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in an online statement.

The country's tungsten ore concentrate output is limited to 68,555 tonnes this year; rare earth ore to 82,320 tonnes, and antimony ore to 90,180 tonnes, said the ministry.

These quotas on output were based on decreasing demand across the world as a result of the ongoing global financial crisis, said the ministry.

The ministry said it would also not take any license applications before June 30, 2010 for exploring the three resources.

China holds 40.5 percent of the world's proven tungsten reserves, and is the world's biggest antimony producer. The nation has a proven rare earth reserve of 52 million tonnes, or about 58 percent of the world's total....MORE

From Industrial Metals:

Rare earth prices unchanged

De-stocking means rare earth prices stable but higher prices expected for H2 2009...

See also:

With a Name Like Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Co., it has to be good ( 600111:Shanghai)

Wind: So Why the Interest in Rare Earths?