China Raising Export Duties on Rare Earths

The uncertainty over China’s exports of so-called rare earth minerals still persists. NPR reports on new duties the government plans to impose over the elements:

The Ministry of Finance issued a statement saying some rare earth products will have export duties increased beginning Jan. 1, the official China Daily reported.

The ministry did not specify which rare earths would be affected or how much the tax would be.

Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals used in the manufacturing of high-tech products such as flat-screen TVs, mobile phones, electric car batteries, and wind turbines.

China produces 97 percent of the global supply of rare earths.

Also Wednesday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman promised China would “act responsibly” in international cooperation on rare earth exploration and ensuring that basic demands for the minerals are met.

And from the Wall Street Journal:

China currently produces more than 95% of these rare-earth materials, presenting a scenario where much of the world’s clean technology makers rely on the country for valuable resources.

“China has said it intends to be a reliable supplier,” Mr. Sandalow said, while adding that the U.S. should try to diversify global supply chains and develop substitutes “so we are not reliant on any particular input.”

Non-governmental analysts believe China could reduce exports of rare-earth materials to countries that rely on them. China’s willingness to supply these materials constitutes a “fragile relationship,” said Jim Hedrick of Hedrick Consultants.

See also, “US urged to ramp up rare earths” from AFP.

December 15, 2010, 11:16 PM
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