Metals News
China Halts Start of New Tungsten, Rare Earth Mines
industry news
Mar 16,2010

SHANGHAI, Mar. 16 -- China, supplier of 90 percent of the world's rare earth minerals, stopped accepting applications for new mines to produce the materials until June 30, 2011, the land ministry said.

It also stopped accepting applications for tungsten and antimony mines, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in a statement on its Web site late yesterday. Shares of producers rose after the announcement.

The policy, aimed at protecting resources, may benefit producers such as Hunan Nonferrous Metals Corp. and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth Hi-tech Co. The government wants to help producers increase bargaining power in price talks, said Yao Chunlei, analyst at Guoyuan Securities Co.

"China's rare earth miners don't have much say in price negotiations," Yao said from Shanghai. "The resources were sold too cheaply."

Baotou Steel Rare Earth, the owner of the country's largest rare earth mine, rose as much as 6.5 percent and was 3.1 percent higher at 24.57 yuan at 10:31 a.m. in Shanghai.

Hunan Nonferrous, China's biggest tungsten maker, gained as much as 1 percent. Chenzhou Mining Group Co., the world's second-largest antimony producer, gained 2.1 percent in Shenzhen. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent.

Rare earth minerals, a group including dysprosium, are used in hybrid cars such as Toyota Motor Corp's Prius and music players like Apple Inc.'s iPod. Tungsten is used to toughen steel to make machine tools. Antimony is used in lead batteries.

China plans to cap output of tungsten metal at 80,000 tons, antimony at 100,000 tons and that of rare earth at 89,200 tons, for 2010, the statement said. It has targets for provinces and companies.

"The policy is aimed at protecting and effectively utilize China's advantageous mineral resources," the ministry said.


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