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Myanmar shutdowns spark boost in Chinese rare earth production quotas for 2023 - report

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(Kitco News) - According to Adamas Intelligence, China raised its full year rare earth (REE) production quotas for 2023 due to current uncertainty in Myanmar.

The consultancy said that overall, mining quotas for REE have been increased to 240,000 tonnes this year (up 14%) while smelting and separation quotas have been increased to 230,000 tonnes (up 14%).

“Versus the first quota announcement of 2023 which saw an 18-19% increase compared with the year prior, the second quota announcement of 2023 is up just 10% versus the same period last year and we believe would have been even lower had Myanmar shutdowns not materialized,” Adamas added.

According to the report, China Northern Rare Earth Group is once again the main benefactor of the quota increases whereas middle and heavy rare earth quotas have gone virtually unchanged for nearly 6 years straight - speaking to the scarcity of associated resources in China.

“With market conditions already beginning to improve in recent months and the seasonally strong fourth quarter fast approaching, China's 14% increase in quotas this year will be needed to support global demand growth, particularly in light of current Myanmar uncertainty and a potential winding down of concentrate exports to China from MP Materials,” the consultancy said.

According to USGS, the rare earths are a relatively abundant group of 17 elements composed of scandium, yttrium, and the lanthanides. The rare earths' unique properties are used in a wide variety of applications.

Rare earth minerals are critical for transition to a low-carbon economy, including their important applications in renewable energy and electric vehicles.

China is the world's largest producer of rare earth minerals, accounting for about 70% of total production. The country is also the largest consumer of rare earths.

Adamas Intelligence is an independent research and advisory firm that helps clients make informed decisions involving strategic metals and minerals. The consultancy indicated that in 2022, its research and advice guided over $1 billion of investment commitments into the markets it covers.

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