Friday, 24 May 2013

Price Increases for LEDs as China Tightens Rare Earths Export Quota

China currently supplies more than 90 percent of the world's rare earths and accounts for over one-third of the known global reserves.

China's Ministry of Commerce sets rare earth export limits twice a year. The first allotment for 2013 was set at 15,501 tonnes, down from 21,226 tonnes for 2012's first setting. The reasoning behind this decrease was that China saw a wane in demand last year but hopefully if demand picks up we will see an increase for the second 2013 allotment quota.

Rare earths comprise of 17 chemical elements and are a key ingredient in the manufacture of phosphors which are used in LEDS, fluorescent tubes and CFls. The metals are also used in precision-guided weapons and missiles meaning that overall global demand is high. As a result of the quota restrictions, the price of the materials has increased, meaning that the end product has also had a price increase. Please bare this in mind when ordering or forecasting.

In a recent article however, Japan claim that they have found vast amounts of reserves of rare earth metals on the Pacific seabed that can be mined cheaply.

The deposits that have been discovered lay just two to four metres from the seabed surface and are at a higher concentration than anybody could have predicted. Exploration will continue for another two years before plans are made to start production but it is believed it can be extracted by using pressurised air with minimal disturbance of the sea floor. 

Read the article in full here.

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