China May rare earth exports jump 36% y/y on restocking

Excavators dig rare earth on a field of Jiangxi Copper Corp’s Sichuan branch on February 18, 2011 in Chengdu, Sichuan Province of China. (Image by 62|

China’s exports of rare earths in May climbed 35.9% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Friday, buoyed by a wave of restocking from overseas buyers.

The world’s largest producer shipped out a record high of 6,217 metric tons of the group of 17 minerals last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

That compares to 4,566 tons shipped in April and 4,576 tons in May 2023.

Rare earths are used in a wide range of products including lasers, military equipment, electric vehicles, wind turbines and consumer electronics.

“The jump in exports last month is mainly because that overseas buyers restocked in advance volumes needed to maintain production during the upcoming summer lull from July,” said Liu Hao, an analyst at consultancy Shanghai Metals Market (SMM).

“Also, domestic prices had generally been on the rise from March to May, which to some extent propelled international buyers to place orders for fear of higher prices ahead. But we expect exports in June to fall following high volumes in May.”

Prices of praseodymium-neodymium alloy in China jumped by nearly 4% from late March to 454,000 yuan a ton by the end of May, SMM data showed.

China accounts for 70% of rare earths mining globally and 90% of refined output, according to the United States Geological Survey.

In the first five months of 2024, China’s rare earths exports totalled 24,266.5 tons, up 14.3% year-on-year, customs data showed.


China’s rare earths imports in May rose 2.7% year-on-year to 13,747 tons, while total imports for the January-May period dropped 14.3% on year to 62,589.2 tons, the customs data showed.

(By Amy Lv and Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Kim Coghill, Himani Sarkar, Rashmi Aich and David Evans)


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