China has removed its export quotas for rare earths as it moves to comply with a World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruling made last year. The country lost a case at the WTO in March 2014 after the United States, European Union and Japan had complained that China was limiting exports in a bid to drive up prices. During the hearing a WTO panel ruled that China had failed to show the export quotas were justified.
Under the new guidelines announced by China’s Ministry of Commerce at the end of December 2014 there is no ceiling on the amount of rare earths that can exported, however companies are required to have a license to export them.
Around 30% of the world’s rare earth deposits are in China and the country is responsible for more than 90% of rare earth production worldwide. Along with the 17 rare earth metals, the ministry is also reported to have abolished export quotas for tungsten and molybdenum.
China exported 22,493 tons of rare earths in 2013 and 22,224 tons in the first ten months of 2014, according to customs data.