Myanmar rare earth mines still awaiting notice to restart; all operation halted by govt for more than 10 days


YANGON (Reuters): Rare earth mines in Myanmar, one of the world's top sources of the critical elements, are still suspended and have not received notice on when they can reopen, said a Chinese analyst and local miner.

Mines in the Pangwa region in Kachin State, the country's biggest source of rare earths, were ordered to halt operations on Sept. 4 ahead of inspections that were expected to last up to 10 days.

After random inspections across more than 300 mining sites, miners have not yet received notice on when they will be allowed to resume production, said a Chinese analyst briefed on the situation by three mining companies in Myanmar.

The analyst declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A spokesperson for Myanmar's ruling council could not be reached for comment.

Rare earths are a group of 17 minerals used in consumer electronics and military equipment and China is by far the world's top processor of the raw materials.

Myanmar accounted for 38% of rare earth imports into China in January-July, Chinese data showed, while the Southeast Asian country was the fourth biggest source of rare earth mining in 2022, data from the U.S. Geological Survey showed.

A local miner employed by a Chinese-owned company operating in Chang Yin Ku, near Pangwa, said he had returned home in early September, after being told the suspension would last up to 10 days.

He declined to be identified for security reasons.

"It is true that some of our projects were stopped due to the inspections," he said, adding that dozens of miners were now unemployed.

Reuters could not independently verify the situation.

Chinese rare earth prices jumped in recent weeks on the news but have moved little in recent days as sellers hold off anticipating higher prices and buyers show little interest at current levels, said the analyst.

Prices of dysprosium oxide are hovering around 2,610 yuan ($359) per kilogramme, the highest since May 2022, data provided by Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) on LSEG Eikon showed.

Terbium oxide prices are at 8,550 yuan a kilogramme.

($1 = 7.2768 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Amy Lv and Dominique Patton in Beijing and Reuters staff in Myanmar Editing by Mark Potter) - Reuters

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Myanmar , Rare Earth Mines , Not Opening

   

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