China Tightens Export of Rare Earth Elements for 2011

Commerce Ministry orders 35 percent drop in for first half of 2011 of key metals vital to more electronics and clean energy technologies.

Published: 30-Dec-2010

HONG KONG — China’s commerce ministry announced on Tuesday in Beijing a steep reduction in export quotas for rare earth metals in the first months of next year, a move that threatens to cause further difficulties for manufacturers already struggling with short supplies and soaring prices.

The reduction in quotas for the early months of 2011 — a 35 percent drop in tonnage from the first half of this year — is the latest in a series of measures by Beijing that has gradually curtailed much of the world’s supply of rare earths.

China mines more than 95 percent of the global supply of the metals, which are essential for smartphones, electric cars, many computer components and a range of military hardware. In addition, the country mines 99 percent of the least common rare earths, the so-called heavy rare earths that are used in trace amounts but are crucial to many clean energy applications and electronics.

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