Rare earth producer halts production
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
Supplies of rare earth metals are tightening as China's largest producer of the essential substances plans to suspend production for one month in an effort to bolster prices.
Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare Earth (Group) Hi Tech Co. Ltd., often referred to as "Baotou," has suspended production of rare earth metals, according to the The Financial Times . Rare earth metals are used in the manufacture of a range of electronics, including hard drives, optical drives and semiconductors, as well as solar panels and other components. The paper reports that rare earth prices have been on the decline since July, following the shutdown of Japanese electronics manufacturing capacity after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Efforts by China to control rare earth prices might be greater than initially thought, the paper suggests, and there have been reports of traders complaining that Chinese customs officials have been forcing contracts to be rewritten to conform with a "secret list" of acceptably high rare earth prices.
Baotou controls about 40 percent of China's rare earths and says its most recent action will bring more stability to the market.