Edited and translated by Liang Jun
China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC) recently announced the first batch of export quota of rare earths in 2013, including about 13,600 tons of light rare earths and 2,000 tons of middle and heavy rare earths.
But the quota of the whole year remains unknown. The first batch of export quota in 2012 accounted for about 80 percent of that of the whole year, when it reached around 31,000 tons, increased by some 2.7 percent from the year of 2011 (about 30,200 tons).
According to the Ministry of Commerce, the first batch of export quota of 2013, amounting to 50 percent of the total quota of 2012, was calculated based on the enterprises' volume and value of exports in the years of 2010, 2011 and the first ten months of 2012.
A total of 24 groups and enterprises won export quota, including China Minmetals Corporation and Baogang Group. Of them, four companies affiliated to Baogang Group got some 1,700 tons of light rare earths and about 120 tons of middle and heavy rare earths.
In recent years, as the price of rare earths fluctuated and foreign suppliers began to resume production, China's export volume is far from meeting the quota and it stood at 18,600 tons in 2011, only accounting for 60 percent of the total quota, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China was involved in trade disputes concerning the exports of rare earths in March 2012 when the European Union, the United States and Japan complained over what they claimed were stringent Chinese export controls. The World Trade Organization formed a special group in July to investigate the issue and the case is underway.
Rare earths, a group of 17 elements, are essential in the manufacture of an array of high-tech products, including wind turbines and hybrid cars.
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