The Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released the first batch of rare earth export quotas for 2012 on December 27, 2011.
According to the Head of Department of Foreign Trade at MOFCOM, the Chinese government has taken management measures over the exploration, production and export of rare earth minerals, as required for the protection of resources and the environment. The department announced that in order to “guarantee international market demand and keep rare earth supplies stable”, export quotas for 2012 would remain at the same level as 2011.
China’s rare earth exports totalled 14,750 tons in the first 11 months of 2011, accounting for 49% of total export quotas. Large quantities of most export quotas still lay idle the department stated.
China is the major producer of rare earths, accounting for around 97% of global production. Rare earth minerals are used in many applications, from smart phones to wind turbines, with around 26% (35,000 t) used in the production of magnets. The use of neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent magnets, produced via the powder metallurgy (PM) process, has seen spectacular growth since the technology was developed in the early 1980’s.
Edited by: Paul Whittaker, Editor ipmd.net, [email protected]