Seeking to quell fears among its trading partners, Beijing has announced that it will keep its 2011 rare earths export quota at 2010 levels.
China currently supplies 97 percent of the world's rare earth elements and has gained its market dominance by cutting prices of the materials. China has about 30 percent of the world's rare earth reserves, most of which is produced by a single mine in Inner Mongolia.
Investors worldwide last year panicked when it seemed that China would restrict rare earths exports for use in its indigenous industries.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on its Web site that rare earth export quotas for 26 companies for the period July-December 2011 will be 15,738 tons, which makes the full 2011 export quota a total of 30,184 tons. In 2010 China exported 30,258 tons of rare earths, the Yonhap news agency reported.
The Ministry of Commerce announcement follows a World Trade Organization ruling against China for cutting exports of eight raw materials, which did not include rare earths. The United States and Europe had expected the WTO's ruling would lead China to increase exports of 17 rare earth elements, seeing China’s 2010 export levels as insufficient to meet growing worldwide demand.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com