China asks rare-earth giants to bring prices back to ‘reasonable levels’
Published: Mar 04, 2022 09:43 PM
rare earth Photo:VCG


China's industry regulator summoned the country's top rare-earth firms, including the newly founded conglomerate China Rare Earth Group, on Thursday, asking them to promote a complete pricing mechanism and jointly bring the prices of the scarce materials "back to reasonable levels" as prices of the valuable resource have been rising for months. 

According to a statement by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Friday, it instructed industry giants including China Rare Earth Group, Shenghe Resources, and China Northern Rare Earth Group to regulate their operations and trading, and to prevent market speculation or hoarding.

MIIT urged the companies to take the lead in promoting a pricing mechanism for rare earths products and jointly bring prices back to a reasonable range. 

The statement came as rare-earth prices, which were driven by the strong demand at home and abroad and further elevated by surging commodities prices amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, have been rising over the past months. 

The Chinese rare-earth price index reached 429.40 on Friday, hovering around record highs and climbing by 0.2 points on Thursday, according to the China Rare Earth Industry Association.

"Relevant enterprises should take responsibility, look at the situation as a whole, ensure the safety and stability of the industrial and supply chains, and help promote the sound and stable development of the industry," said MIIT.

Wu Chenhui, an independent industry analyst, predicted that prices will stay elevated for some time, given tight supplies and demand for rare-earth metals used in electric vehicles (EVs), ignited by the economic rebound after the Chinese New Year and uncertainties in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Prices of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used in EVs and military equipment, have surged since the second half of 2021. The Chinese price of praseodymium-neodymium alloy used to make super strong magnets for EV motors has risen 32 percent so far this year to 1.38 million yuan ($218,395.90), according to a Reuters report. 

Industry players told the Global Times that disrupted rare-earth imports from Myanmar, an important source of these minerals in China, also helped maintain the prices of the scarce materials at a high level.

A manager at a Ganzhou-based state-owned rare-earth company surnamed Yang told the Global Times that the delivery of rare earths from Myanmar to Ganzhou has not been very smooth, and kept "on and off."

"There is a shortage of labor and chemical agents in Myanmar rare-earth mines, which also weighs on mineral supply," Yang said. He added that although almost all rare-earth manufacturers in Ganzhou are running at full capacity, the soaring demand in downstream industries further exacerbates the imbalance between supply and demand.

"High global inflation, the coronavirus situation, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and China's green push which will inevitable raise costs for firms, will provide the basis for rare-earth prices in the coming days," Wu told the Global Times on Friday.