China Soon May Need to Import REEs
Source: Bloomberg, Gopal Ratnam (3/15/11)
"China's domestic REE demand rose as much as 200% in the last year."
Domestic Chinese demand for rare earths has increased as much as 200% in the last 12 months, with almost half of that increase coming since the start of the year, Liu said.
Rare earths are a group of 17 elements; the mines in the Baotou region produce so-called light rare earth elements (LREEs), including lanthanum, cerium and samarium. Heavy rare-earth production, concentrated in the south of China, includes the elements dysprosium, gadolinium and terbium.
The Chinese government slashed export quotas by 72% in the second half of last year for the elements that have uses ranging from high-end magnets in U.S. weapons to catalysts in petroleum refining. The country has committed to a 35% cut in the first half of 2011 from the level a year earlier. Export quotas for the second half of 2011 may be announced only in July, Liu said.
China has about 36% of global rare-earth reserves and the U.S. has 13%, according to the U.S. Energy Department.
U.S. lawmakers, including Senators Charles Schumer and Debbie Stabenow today called on President Barack Obama's administration to block Chinese mining projects as a step to counter China's curbs on rare earth exports.