China’s rare earths giant continues production halt

China’s largest rare earths producer on Tuesday announced that it will continue to halt some of its production for a third month to help stabilize tumbling prices.

The Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., Ltd. will maintain its suspension of rare earth roasting and smelting separation operations, which began on Oct. 23, for another month, the company said in a statement filed to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

“The rare earths market recovered a bit in the past two months but did not improve fundamentally,” the statement said.

The burst of a speculative bubble in China’s rare earths industry and the softening economy has led to plunges in prices of rare earths, a group of 17 metals used in products ranging from smartphones to hybrid cars, since last year.

The price of praseodymium-neodymium oxide, primarily used to make ceramics and magnetic materials, has slid to around 300,000 yuan (47,695 U.S. dollars) to 320,000 yuan per tonne, down from 1.4 million yuan per tonne at the highest point last year.

Baotou Steel saw its third quarter net profits dive 89.6 percent year on year to 120 million yuan due to declines in prices and sales.

The company’s Shanghai-listed shares lost 0.69 percent to close at 37.18 yuan during the morning session on Tuesday.

Xinhua