Reuters reports China will further restrict exports of rare earth minerals in the first half of 2011 to preserve its reserves. China controls about 97 percent of the mining of rare earth metals and the new cut means the country will export 35 percent less minerals than a year ago. Rare earth elements are widely used in high-tech applications, including most gadgets and a variety of clean energy technologies.
China, which produces about 97 percent of the global supply of rare earth minerals, cut its export quotas by 35 percent for the first half of 2011 versus a year ago, saying it wanted to preserve ample reserves. It also cautioned that it has not decided on the quotas for the second half of the year.
A European Commission spokesman said the European Union "notes the latest quota figures and expects China to respect its recent assurance of a guarantee of rare earth supplies to Europe." The United States, which earlier this month threatened possible World Trade Organization action over Chinese rare earth export restraints, voiced concern on Tuesday as well.
Earlier this week, Colorado-based Molycorp announced it will resume its rare earth mining operation in the US. The company aims to produce 20,000 tons of rare earths by the end of 2012.