SHANGHAI, May 30 (SMM) - In April, China exported 4,601 mt of rare earth permanent magnets, an increase of 7.7% month-on-month and an increase of 18% year-on-year; the unit export price was $81.57/kg, an increase of 9.8% month-on-month and a substantial increase of 47.13% year-on-year. The export of rare earth permanent magnets achieved growth in both volume and amount.
Affected by the pandemic in some regions, the operating rates of domestic magnetic material enterprises dropped, hence the export volume of rare earth permanent magnets dropped sharply in February. Although the exports continued to increase in both volume and amount since March, the growth rate in April slowed down as the operating rates of domestic magnetic material companies gradually stabilised.
Compared with March, overseas rare earth permanent magnet order deliveries have increased as a whole. The exports of rare earth permanent magnets to Japan and South Korea increased by 33% month-on-month, followed by the United States and Southeast Asia, an increase of 17.8% and 10% month-on-month respectively.
The exports to Europe remained unchanged month-on-month. The demand from electric motors for two-wheeled electric vehicles in Europe was weak, and the demand for magnetic materials was stable.
In April, the export volume of PrNd alloy was only 53 mt, down 28% from the previous month, and that of PrNd oxide was only 18 mt. And most of the PrNd oxide and alloy were exported to Japan. Compared with rare earth permanent magnets, the export volume of major raw materials such as PrNd oxide and alloy has not grown significantly, and overseas countries still rely heavily on the production of rare earth permanent magnets in China.
In April 2021, the monthly average price of PrNd alloy, the main raw material of rare earth permanent magnets, was 698,000 yuan/mt. By April 2022, the monthly average price rose to 1.063 million yuan/mt, an increase of 52%. Affected by the sharp rise in raw material prices, the unit export price of rare earth permanent magnet also rose sharply year-on-year.
China imported a total of 8,695 mt of rare earth ores in April, a decrease of 33% from the previous month, and the main reduction was contributed by light rare earth ores.
The import volume of light rare earth ore decreased significantly month-on-month. The import of rare earth metal ore was 6,259 mt. Affected by the maintenance of MP mine in the United States in March and April, the import volume of light rare earth ore decreased by 45% month-on-month. Domestic light rare earth ore separation enterprises have maintained stable operating rates.
In April, the import volume of middle and heavy rare earth ore increased slightly month-on-month, of which 964 mt of unlisted rare earth oxides were imported, and 821 mt were imported from Myanmar; and only 87 mt of mixed rare earth carbonates were imported. Due to the closure of the boarder port and the inaccessibility of auxiliary materials, the rare earth mines in Myanmar suspended the mining activities in the first quarter. This batch of ores were those left un-imported in December last year.
Although the domestic ion ore mining work in Jiangxi is proceeding in an orderly manner, it is difficult to produce rare earth ore in the second quarter, and the supply of domestic ion ore in May and June is likely to intensify. The operating rate of some separation enterprises in Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Guangxi and other places have been reduced, and a few enterprises have sought other supply channels including overseas monazite. The demand for monazite has increased.
The import of thorium ore in April was 1,384 mt, an increase of 17% from the previous month. Among them, the thorium ore from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian regions accounts for 85% of China’s total imports. The thorium ore produced in Southeast Asia is of slightly better grade, and the content of elements such as praseodymium-neodymium, dysprosium, and terbium is slightly higher. The thorium ore from Africa accounts for 10% of China’s total imports, and Africa has abundant thorium ore reserves and huge supply potential. Thorium ore imports are expected to continue to grow.