Japan's REE Imports from China Jump 40% in March


"REE demand has remained steady even after the March 11 earthquake."


Japan's imports of rare earths from China rose 40% in March from the previous month, Ministry of Finance data showed, with some observers saying demand is so far unaffected by last month's devastating quake though the outlook remains murky.

Imports of rare earths from China stood at 1,603.6 tons in March, the data showed on Wednesday. That was up from 1,138 tons in February and close to January's 1,783 tons indicating that inflows of the metals continued after Beijing's de facto ban on shipments was lifted in November.

An official at a trading house in Japan said that his company has not faced any problems in procuring from China. We have been getting the materials that have been sealed under contracts by mid March for shipments from this month. There has been no change in inflows.

Demand from REE end users has remained steady so far even after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled wide-ranging parts supply chains and hurt production of carmakers and other manufacturers.

The official said that none of our customers have so far asked for a change in the contracts for shipments in the April to June quarter, so volumes we import remain as scheduled. The quake and subsequent disruptions to production don't appear to have had much impact on procurement of metals. That may be partially due to our customers' constant fear of supply shortages. Still, the outlook for rare earths imports was murky the official said, given uncertainty over the price outlook for rare earths in coming months and the impact of the quake on the Japanese economy.

Japanese REE imports in March were still well below December's 4,080 tons when trade resumed after Beijing halted shipments for two months from late September.

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