Rare earth prices rise on market recovery

12 April 2015

The cost of rare earth elements is continuing to rise indicating the market is recovering from recent falls, according to the MTL Index.

The investment specialist said its price index rose by 8.3 per cent in February compared with the previous month. This was on top of an increase of 4.3 per cent experienced in January. MTL Index said this indicated the market was on the way to recovery. The company said illegal mining and over-zealous stockpiling had caused significant price falls in recent years.

The price of some rare earths have increased more than others, including Terbium up by 47 per cent in the last two months. Dysprosium has also seen an increase of more than 20 per cent this year. Overall, the MTL price index for rare earths has progressed by 8.3 per cent over the month.

Industrial recovery in the United States is an important factor boosting the market, together with countries – especially China – that have a big investment in the renewable energy sector, which is a large consumer of strategic metals.

The rise of 3D printing is also boosting the market, as industries that use the technology, including the medical, aerospace and automotive sectors, traditionally consume high-tech metals.

Chinese exports of light rare earths fell sharply, down 64 per cent year on year.

The production of rare earths outside China, consisting mainly of light rare earths such as lanthanum and cerium, has sharply increased. Exports of medium and heavy rare earths have increased by 324 per cent now that quotas no longer exist, the MTL index says.

The value of exports increased by 11 per cent for light rare earths, and by 332 per cent for medium and heavy rare earths.

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