INDUSTRIAL METALS / MINERALS
Rare earth prices on the rise
The Chinese government's efforts appear to be paying off with its crackdown on illegal mining of rare earths.
Posted: Thursday , 27 Jun 2013
MUMBAI (Mineweb) -
Even as new measures to consolidate the rare earth industry in China are on the cards, prices for the 17 elements have jumped 10% over the past two weeks. The report has indicated that prices of praseodymium-neodymium oxide stood at around $43,000 (270,000 yuan) per tonne on June 25, about $3,237 (20,000 yuan) higher than the price recorded two weeks ago, according to the Shanghai Securities Journal.
Prices of dysprosium oxide and terbium oxide, on the other hand, were quoting at $218,571 (1.35 million yuan) and $420,989 (2.6 million yuan) per tonne respectively on June 25, each higher by $3,237 as compared to a fortnight ago.
The average price of rare earths in 2012 fell close to 40% compared to 2011. To stop the price fall, firms across China adopted strategies such as production suspensions. However, falling demand in downstream sectors and illegal mining curbed the effects of such strategies.
Exports too were hit last year, with China's rare earth exports plummeting 71% given the several international trade suits.
A turnaround in exports was witnessed only in April this year. Chinese exports of rare earth metals were six times higher at 2,196 tonnes, as compared to April 2012.
The government also suspended new prospecting and mining licences for rare earths in a bid to prevent over exploitation. The Asian nation has also been cracking down on the illegal mining of rare earth metals, which could have led to the recent jump in prices.
Local news agencies said illegal mining operations have been rampant at the village of Xianghu, located in the southeastern mountains of the Fujian Province.
Rampant mining has laid the mountainside bare in Xinfeng county of Shaoguan city in the Guangdong province, which is known as the capital of `underground' rare earths.
The crackdown by the government has ensured more whistle-blowers come to the fore. Informants of illegal mining activities are paid $485.924 (3,000 yuan).
Reports indicate that till March 2013, authorities closed 23 illegal mines and 57 processing ponds. Some nine rare earth mines operating illegally in Longchuan county were also shut down over the last six months.