China increases export quota of rare earths

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced an increase of 10,680 tonnes in the export quota of rare earth raw materials that are vital for sectors such as technology or military industry.

According to a statement from China’s trade regulator, 12 companies approved by China for export will be beneficiaries of the new rules, including Baogang Group and Aluminum Corporation of China (Chinalco).

China produces 90 percent of rare earths in the world, but in recent years it has decided to limit the extraction and exports, citing environmental and internal market needs.

However, major importing countries like the USA and Japan have accused China of restricting sales for strategic or political retaliation at times.

The 17 rare earths (scandium, yttrium, lanthanum, gadolinium, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, terbium, thulium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, ytterbium and lutetium) have become valuable raw materials for use in mobile manufacturing, missile guidance systems and other high-tech products.

China has only 30 percent of world reserves of these elements, but countries like the U.S. and Australia have stopped their production for years because of pollution, while nations with large deposits such as India or Brazil, haven’t exploited their rare earth resources.