Rare earth prices rocket as China cuts exports

Date: 
June 21, 2011

Fears over global supplies have led the prices of some rare earths to double in the past three weeks.

The group of rare elements is vital to cleantech innovations such as electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines but a move by the Chinese government to stockpile resources has sparked worldwide fears of a supply shortage.

According to the Financial Times, a restriction on Beijing mines that are reducing rare earths and a cut-down on export levels have sent prices rocketing.

Although found in other parts of the world, China currently produces more than 90 percent of the elements on the global market today and thereby has a near monopoly on their movement.

The price of terbium oxide - which is used in hybrid vehicles - has shot up to over USD3,000 per kg.