China’s Q1 rare-earth exports rise 6.5%, ‘a relatively high level’ amid supply chain woes
Published: Apr 13, 2022 03:39 PM
Erbium(III) oxide of Golden Dragon Rare Earth Company is on display. Photo: VCG

Erbium(III) oxide of Golden Dragon Rare Earth Company is on display. Photo: VCG


China's rare-earth exports in the first quarter of 2022 rose 6.5 percent year-on-year to 12,680 tons, slowing down from the 10.9-percent growth recorded in the first two months of the year, customs data showed on Wednesday. 

According to customs data, China's rare-earth exports stood at 4,845.2 tons in March, which industry observers said represent "a relatively high level" in terms of monthly trade volume, showing that the trading of the precious metal has not been affected by geopolitical tensions and supply chain snags caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The value of first-quarter rare-earth exports in dollar-denominated terms grew 78 percent compared with the same year last year to $244.2 million as prices continued to climb. The figure compared with the 61.8-percent expansion in the January-February period. 

"There's no significant change in China's rare-earth exports, which mirrors a normal trade pattern despite geopolitical tensions," Wu Chenhui, an independent rare-earth industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

But some industry insiders estimated that the world's largest rare-earth exporter could see export drops in coming months, as China's rare-earth production capacity faces obstacles. Major border gates between China and Myanmar— which accounts for about half of China's rare-earth mineral supply - have been shut down again since the beginning of the year, posing serious challenges for the transfer of raw material supply and further price fluctuations.

A manager of a state-owned rare-earth enterprise surnamed Yang based in Ganzhou, East China's Jiangxi Province, told the Global Times that the capacity of rare-earth companies in Ganzhou - one of China's biggest rare-earth manufacturing bases - has been cut by at least 25 percent compared to last year's levels. 

In the first two months, China exported 7,835 tons of rare earth, up 10.9 percent year-on-year.