China considers rare earth reserve to stabilise prices

SHANGHAI: China is considering a national inventory reserve of rare earths in a bid to stabilise prices for the 17 metals, crucial for the defense, electronics and renewable-energy industries, state-backed China Securities Journal reported.

The paper cited government sources saying the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) was looking at strategic buying and selling, where producers buy up surplus supply when prices fall and sell when prices rise.

The ministry hopes this will quell large price fluctuations, as seen last year.

Domestic demand for rare earths tumbled last year after Beijing tightened controls over production and mining and many separation plants closed down after customers retreated from the sky-high prices.

But the paper cited market participants, who noted that China’s largest producer Baotou Steel Rare-Earth hi Tech had failed to stabilise prices with a similar strategy last year.

They suggested it might be better to root out illegal mining and to oversee rare earth trades through a trading platform, the paper said.

China controls 95% of the world’s rare earths market. — Reuters

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