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China Strengthens Grip on Rare Earths Sector with New Rules

China's State Council has reportedly rolled out a new set of regulations aimed at strengthening control over the country's rare earths resources and securing its local supply chain.

According to a June 29 Reuters article, the regulations, which are set to take effect on October 1, introduce stringent oversight on the mining, smelting and trading of rare earth elements.

These 17 minerals are key for high-tech applications, including electric vehicle magnets and consumer electronics. China's new rules assert that rare earth resources are owned by the state, which will strictly supervise the industry.

Enterprises involved in the mining, smelting, separation and export of rare earths are now required to maintain detailed records of product flow and input this data into the traceability system.

China is considered to be a superpower in the rare earths market, with the country accounting for nearly 90 percent of global refined output. Last year, the Asian nation already imposed restrictions on the export of germanium and gallium — both of which are essential to the semiconductor industry — citing national security concerns.

In addition, China has banned the export of technology used to produce and extract rare earth magnets.

This decision has sparked fears of increased tensions with western nations, particularly the US, which has accused China of leveraging its economic power to influence global markets. China, however, denies these allegations.

Elsewhere, the EU is working to decrease its reliance on Chinese rare earths through a new law that came into effect last May. It sets ambitious targets to increase domestic production of critical minerals, including rare earths, by 2030.

This initiative is part of the EU’s broader strategy to support green technology — as mentioned, rare earths are vital for the production of magnets used in electric vehicles and other applications like wind turbines.

European explorer Rare Earths Norway recently announced the discovery of the continent's largest proven deposit of rare earth elements at the Fen Carbonatite Complex in Southeastern Norway. The deposit is estimated to contain 8.8 million metric tons of total rare earth oxides. Of that amount, 1.5 million metric tons are magnet-related rare earths.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Giann Liguid, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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