China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of rare earths, may start building an 18,000-tonnes strategic stockpile of the elements in September, the Economic Information Daily newspaper said on Thursday.
Though it has just 23% of global reserves, China accounts for more than 90% of the world’s supplies of rare earths. It has trimmed its export quotas in the recent years, angering trade partners who say the curbs are unfair.
“Given the fluctuation of the market and falling rare earths prices, the government should be prudent on the grade, volume and timing of rare earths reserves,” the paper, which is run by state new agency Xinhua, quoted an unnamed source as saying.
China has abundant supplies of light rare earths in northern regions including Inner Mongolia, but a much smaller amount of the more expensive medium and heavy types used to make complex products like turbines and computer chips.
The newspaper cited industry sources as saying that the government should preserve the more scarce medium and heavy rare earths rather than light grades.