China continues to be key factor in rare earths market volatility

Mar 31, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Myra Pinkham

Tags  rare earths, rare earths prices, China rare earths, rare earths demand, Gareth Hatch, Christopher Ecclestone, Myra Pinkham

Rare earths pricing and demand will remain volatile until there is a steadier source of supply from outside China, according to Gareth Hatch, founding principal of consultancy Technology Metals Research LLC, Carpentersville, Ill. Currently, more than 95 percent of rare earths are produced in China. 

While demand for rare earths has grown by a nearly double-digit compounded annual rate—given its use in a variety of high-technology and energy products, including those used by the defense industry—and rare earths’ role in the miniaturization trend for electronics and other devices, supply has been diminishing since 2009 with China’s introduction of export quotas and tariffs, according to Daniel J. Cordier, rare earths mineral commodity specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey. “That resulted in the price of rare earths going crazy, peaking in the....

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