SHANGHAI, Oct 19 (SMM) - China's output of praseodymium-neodymium (PrNd) oxide in September 2021 stood at 5,814 mt, up 1.6% on the month. The increase was mainly contributed by Sichuan, and the output in other regions was largely unchanged, according to SMM research.
The output of PrNd in the rare earth separation plants using light rare earth ore as the raw material in north China was relatively stable in September. Though affected by the power rationing, most companies still maintained the output of PrNd on the sacrifice of relatively cheap lanthanum and cerium products. The rare earth separation plants using medium and heavy rare earth ore as raw materials in south China have found it hard to maintain the output level, as the import of Myanmar ore has been blocked, and the power rationing policy also created negative influences. The output of PrNd oxide in a few enterprises dropped by about one-third. The output of PrNd oxide in rare earth separation plants that use scrap as the main raw material has remained stable. Several companies in Jiangsu have been greatly affected by the power rationing, the output of which has been reduced by nearly 90% in terms of PrNd oxide, coupled with the high production costs. There have also been a few plants in Jiangxi that use scrap as the raw materials recording output loss of around 50%.
With the end of environmental protection inspections, the separation plants in Sichuan and Guangdong have resumed the production. It is expected that the output of PrNd oxide across China will continue to increase month-on-month in October and hit a high of 6,000 mt.
The domestic output of praseodymium-neodymium (PrNd) alloy in September 2021 stood at 5614 mt, a slight increase of 2.6% month-on-month mainly due to the expanded production of some plants.
Most metal factories mainly delivered for long-term orders, and they also signed long-term contracts with upstream suppliers. Therefore, the overall output of PrNd alloy has been relatively stable. However, the output of some plants dropped on the month, mainly because they have chosen to reduce the purchase of high-priced raw materials to mitigate the risks as the downstream sector tended to turn away from the high prices.
Due to the impact of power rationing, the prices of auxiliary materials rose, subsequently pushing up the production costs of rare earth products. Some small and medium-sized magnetic materials companies worry that the subsequent procurement will be more difficult. While the demand for metals has increased slightly recently, but the energy consumption of metal factories is generally higher. On the back of the on-going power rationing, the output of PrNd alloy in October is likely to increase slightly from September.
In terms of imports, the import of light rare earth ore has been normal, and the market’s focus is mainly on whether Myanmar medium and heavy rare earth ore could complete the customs clearance smoothly. During the period when Myanmar rare earth mine imports were blocked, China's rare earth ores were still in short supply, which provided strong support for the current rare earth prices.
In addition, according to the October list prices disclosed by Northern Rare Earths, the lanthanum oxide was quoted at 10,800 yuan/mt, cerium oxide at 10,800 yuan/mt, PrNd oxide at 623,200 yuan/mt, and PrNd alloy at 763,000 yuan/mt, flat from last month. Meanwhile, the neodymium oxide was quoted at 649,100 yuan/mt, an increase of 1.31% from the previous month, and neodymium metal was quoted at 794,000 yuan/mt, an increase of 1.28% from September.
SMM expects that the current rare earth market will still largely remain stable.