Rare earths market at pivotal point ahead of new China policies
London, Singapore 3 October 2014
The global market for rare earths is approaching a critical juncture as China, the world's largest producer, reshapes its export and production policies after losing a WTO trade case brought by the US, EU and Japan.
China is likely to ease controls on its exports in a move that could lead to increased volatility in the price of these strategic materials. But, at the same time, China will seek to pursue alternative measures to control rare earths production and exports. These could include reducing the number of producers to just six groups, making it easier for the government to control the industry, and replacing export tariffs with resource taxes on production.
Rare earths are used in applications ranging from defence systems to consumer electronics, magnets for the automotive sector and smart phones, so a shift in prices will have a clear impact on consumers.
And price changes will affect the rare earths supply balance. Mining companies outside China are developing dozens of projects to establish alternative rare earth supply chains, despite highly challenging market conditions.
In response to the growing need for greater transparency and impartial price information, Argus has launched Argus Rare Earths, a news, pricing and analysis service.
Argus Media chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said: “Rare earths are critical to the functioning of modern economies and to our everyday lives. Argus is pleased to be able to offer reliable and impartial pricing information and analysis that will support the development of a more efficient and transparent spot market for these strategic materials.”
Argus Media metals vice-president Nigel Tunna added: “China wants to conserve its rare earths resources as it is also the world's biggest consumer of these elements and they form part of its industrial strategy for moving into higher technology manufacturing.”
The new Argus Rare Earths service, available through the Argus Direct platform, draws on the market-leading rare earths pricing and analysis provided by Metal-Pages, a UK-based company acquired by Argus in May 2014. The service provides detailed market commentary, prices and market-relevant news.
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