China refutes reports accusing it of curbing rare earths output

Excavators dig rare earth on a field of Jiangxi Copper’s Sichuan branch in Chengdu. (Image by 62|Shutterstock)

A senior official with the Association of China Rare Earth Industry (ACREI) denied Tuesday the country was limiting its rare earth output and argued quotas for the second half of the year appeared lower because the first half quota was for a larger portion of the total annual quota.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times that media reports were just “hyping up” the situation.

He was referring to a Reuters report on Oct. 25, citing data from Dutch market research firm Adamas Intelligence, that said Beijing was curbing domestic production of the elements, used in electric vehicles and electronic devices including phones and computers.

The country raised the annual quota for rare earths (REEs) mining for 2018 to 120,000 tonnes from 105,000 tonnes, which according to the industry official is the highest level since 2006, when it began setting a quota for production of the elements.

China is the largest producer of REEs and its de facto monopoly has long been flagged as a risk for advanced manufacturers in developed nations. Countries, including the US — which meets 60 percent of its rare earth needs with Chinese supply — took Beijing to the World Trade Organization earlier this decade to force the nation to ease export restrictions.

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