China, the world’s biggest supplier of rare earths, increased export quotas to companies by 2.7 percent to the highest in three years after they complied with environmental standards.
Baotou Iron & Steel Group, Aluminum Corp. of China, China Minmetals Corp. and other companies were allowed to export 9,770 metric tons of rare earths in the second batch of quotas for the year, according to a statement on the Ministry of Commerce’s website. That takes the total to 30,996 tons this year after allocations of 10,546 tons in December and 10,680 tons in May in the first batch of export quotas.
The new export quotas will increase supplies of rare earths, 17 chemically similar elements that are used in Apple Inc.’s iPod music players, flat-screen televisions, magnets and hybrid cars. China, which has more than 90 percent of the global rare-earth market, will keep quotas little changed this year, the ministry said Dec. 27, after exporters used half the quantity permitted last year because of weakening demand.
Lynas Corp., an Australian miner developing the world’s largest rare-earths plant in Malaysia, dropped to a more-than-two-year low in Sydney. The stock, which declined as much as 8 percent, fell 2.9 percent to 66.5 Australian cents at the close, the lowest level since July 20, 2010.
Six companies that missed the first batch of quotas, including Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-Tech Co., a unit of Baotou Steel, Guangdong Zhujiang Rare Earths Co. and Huhhot Rongxin New Metal Smelting Co., won export allocations in the second round after meeting environment-protection standards, the ministry said.
Zhang Dayong, head of investor relations with Baotou Steel Rare Earth, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
China has curbed output and export of rare earths since 2009, when quotas were set at 50,145 tons, to conserve resources and protect the environment. The limits were 30,184 tons in 2011 and 30,258 tons in 2010.
China’s rare-earth exports declined 36 percent to 6,409 tons in the first seven months of this year from a year earlier, the General Customs said in an e-mail yesterday.
Japan, the world’s biggest importer of rare earths, the U.S. and the European Union complained to the World Trade Organization about China’s limits on exports.
Baotou Iron and Steel Group got export quotas of 2,469 tons for light rare earths and 196 tons for heavy rare earths. Aluminum Corp. of China got 181 tons for light rare earths and 55 tons for heavy rare earth metals, while China Minmetals Corp. received 423 tons for light rare earths and 152 tons for heavy rare earth metals.
— With assistance by Feiwen Rong