Rare earth, also known as rare earth metal or rare earth element, collectively refers to lanthanides (including fifteen elements) and closely-related scandium and yttrium. At present, rare earth resources have been discovered in about 35 countries and regions around the world, with total reserves of 140 million tons, of which 39.3% are owned by China.
As China is rich in rare earth resources and has made strenuous efforts in mining, over 90% of global rare earth output comes from China. However, affected by the government's control on exploration of rare earths, the output of rare earth in China has been continuing to decline in recent years, to 83,400 tons in 2013, down 16.6% from a year ago.
China is not only a large producer of rare earth but a big consumer, with consumption in 2013 approximating 79,000 tons. Among all application fields, magnetic materials made the largest contribution, accounting for 45% or so.
Besides satisfying domestic demand, China's rare earth and its products are also exported to the United States, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, with export volume of rare earth products reaching about 22,500 tons in 2013, surging by 38% from the previous year. However, hit by sluggish domestic and foreign demands, the price for rare earth has been falling, resulting in a year-on-year decline of 37% in export value of Chinese rare earth products in 2013.
In recent years, rare earth industry has been seriously jeopardized by weak international and domestic economies, falling rare earth price and China's restriction on exploitation and export quota. In response to undesirable market changes, most of companies in the industry have started to improve the industrial chain of rare earth. Among them, China Minmetals Rare Earth Co., Ltd. set about expanding capacity of magnetic material which embraces good market prospects; Taiyuan Twin-Tower Aluminum Oxide Co., Ltd. started to expand to upstream so as to increase raw material supplies; China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd. and Rising Nonferrous Metals Share Co., Ltd. stepped up exploitation and reserves of rare-earth mines.
Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-earth (Group) Hi-tech Co., Ltd.: In July 2013, Phase-I 15,000 tons permanent magnet material project was completed and will be expanded to a capacity of 30,000 tons. The products are mainly used in VCM, hybrid and normal cars, wind generators and MRI imagers.
Taiyuan Twin-Tower Aluminum Oxide Co., Ltd.: In June 2013, Zhejiang Innuovo Magnetics Co., Ltd, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the company, invested RMB 92.4967 million to raise its stake in Ganzhou Tongcheng Rare Earth New Material Co., Ltd. (with rare earth NdFeB wastes processing as its primary business), and will hold 49.95% of Tongcheng Rare Earth once the capital increase is finished.
China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd.: In October 2013, its holding subsidiary NFC Southern Rare Earths (Xinfeng) Co., Ltd. signed a cooperation agreement on exploiting and operating rare earth resources in Xinfeng with People's Government of Xinfeng County, Guangdong. As agreed upon, the two sides will jointly set up a rare earth mining company-- NFC Southern Rare Earths (Xinfeng) Mining Co., Ltd. that specializes in exploitation and operation of rare earth mines.
China Rare Earth Industry Report, 2013-2016 by ResearchInChina highlights the following:
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