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China’s October Rare Earth imports from US up 81pc

Corrects import figures in paragraphs 6-10 and in table

Chinese imports of rare earth metal ores from the US in October increased by 81pc on the year to a record high since China began importing rare earth ores from the US in 1995, according to Chinese customs data. The sharp increase came largely on firmer demand for rare earth magnets from China’s recovering automobile industry, supported by government stimulus packages for domestic economic development.

China’s purchases of rare earth metal ores from the US rose from 5,148t in October 2019 to 9,340t in October 2020, with average import prices 64pc higher at $1,977/t over the same period. Chinese shipments from the US started to rebound from September, following an 80pc month-on-month slump to 1,501t in August. The August shipments were the lowest since 1,462t in March 2019.

China imported 58,381t of rare earth metal ores from the US during January-October, up by 55pc from 37,637t a year earlier, with average import prices rising by 18pc to $1,540/t.

Almost all of the rare earth metal ore imports were taken by Chinese rare earth separation producer Shenghe Resources. The firm restarted operations at its Leshan separation plant in late October, after shutting in mid-August because of floods.

Limited inventories at major light rare earth plants and a rebound in restocking demand from the downstream magnet sector since mid-October have boosted praseodymium-neodymium spot prices and fuelled consumption of imported rare earth ores.

China’s combined imports of rare earth oxide (HS code 28469019), carbonate ores (HS code 28469048) and compounds of rare earth metals (HS code 28469099) rose by 14pc from a year earlier to 34,355t during January-October, with average import prices up by 73pc to $11,070/t.

Imports from Myanmar, including shipments under HS codes 28469019, 28469048 and 28469099, climbed by 24pc from a year earlier to 29,932t during January-October, with average import prices rising by 130pc to $10,661/t. Supplies from Myanmar increased by 216pc on the year to 2,925t in October, while average import prices were lower by 5pc at $9,329/t.

China imported 5,438t of rare earth carbonate ores (HS code 28469048) from Myanmar during January-October, down by 48pc from 10,501t a year earlier. Shipments from Myanmar in October alone rose by 270pc on the year to 546t.

Chinese imports of rare earth oxide ores (HS code 28469019) from Myanmar increased by 18pc from a year earlier to 14,799t during the first 10 months of this year. Shipments of rare earth oxide ores from Myanmar increased by 34pc on the year to 932t in October.

The country’s shipments of compounds of rare earth metals (HS code 28469099) from Myanmar in January-October were over eight times higher than a year earlier at 9,695t, while October exports rose to 1,447t from just 84t in the same month of 2019.

The year-on-year rise in China’s October imports from Myanmar was in response to expectations of a rebound in spot demand from the magnet manufacturing industry and higher domestic spot prices of medium and heavy rare earths in the fourth quarter of this year.

China’s RE imports from US, Myanmar       t
Destinations Oct-20 Oct-19 ± % Jan-Oct 2020 Jan-Oct 2019 ± %
Myanmar 2,925 925 216 29,932 23,986 24
US 9,340 5,148 81 58,381 37,637 55
Total 12,265 6,073 102 88,313 61,623 43

Source: https://www.argusmedia.com/en/news/2164289-chinas-october-re-imports-from-us-up-81pc-correction