Rare earth elements will drop further in value this year as new mines boost output and after China lost a trade dispute over its export controls, while demand for high-technology products disappoints.
Rare earths are increasingly important for some high-tech products such as smartphones and hybrid cars. China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of rare earths, accounting for 90 per cent of the world’s supply of all rare earths. In 2011, China has been criticised for curbing rare earth exports, and in 2011 it exported 16,900 tonnes of rare earth, down 58 per cent from year ago. It consumed about 83,000 tonnes, against global demand of 110,000 tonnes in 2011, according to an industry estimate.