tirsdag 16. februar 2021

China Raises Threat Level Over Rare Earths

China's state media outlets have hailed the surprising rise of the country's exports last year, with one notable exception -- a double-digit drop in supplies of minerals known as rare earths. On Jan. 14, the Communist Party tabloid Global Times noted a 23.5-percent reduction in exports of rare earth elements (REEs), a class of 17 strategic materials used in products ranging from sophisticated magnets and cell phones to wind turbines and missile systems.

China is the dominant source of REEs, accounting for 62.8 percent of world production in 2019, according to U.S. Geological Survey data, although past published estimates have run as high as 99 percent. The Global Times quoted a Beijing-based energy analyst as saying that the slump in shipments of REE ore to the lowest level since 2015 was partly due to a government policy of promoting higher-value exports.

"Rare earth ore exports are limited in value, and the global demand for raw materials is relatively low," said Liu Enqiao of Anbound Consulting. But Liu added that the decline "might be partly due to China's tightening of regulations on strategic resources" under the country's new export control law, which took effect on Dec. 1.