The Elektron division’s revenue was $57.0 million in the third quarter of 2012, a decrease of $28.3 million from $85.3 million in the third quarter of 2011. The major change was in the scale of rare earth surcharges. During the third quarter of 2012, the average Asian Metal Index quoted price for Cerium Carbonate (oxide contained) was $37 per kilo. By comparison, the equivalent price for the third quarter of 2011 was an extraordinary $230 per kilo. As a result of this cost decrease, the surcharge levied on customers to recover increased rare earth costs fell sharply to $5.3 million in the third quarter of 2012 from the $28.0 million levied in the third quarter of 2011, a reduction of $22.7 million. Unfavorable exchange rate translation also impacted revenue quarter on quarter by $1.2 million. Underlying revenue in the third quarter of 2012, excluding translation and the impact of rare earth surcharges, was $4.6 million less than the third quarter of 2011, an 8.2% decrease.
Underlying zirconium volumes in the third quarter of 2012 were -11% less than in the third quarter of 2011. Quarter-on-quarter sales volumes of our auto-catalyst products were down -25%, mainly as a consequence of lower demand from the European automotive market. Offsetting this reduction were increased sales volumes of industrial catalysts and ceramic oxides. Magnesium volumes were also down -11% in the third quarter of 2012, primarily due to weaker demand for high-volume but lower-grade recycle and commercial-type products, also mainly used in automotive applications which have little profit impact. Of greater strategic importance were sales of our lightweight specialist magnesium alloys and high-performance powders, which increased quarter on quarter by 6% and 10%, respectively.
The Elektron division’s trading profit of $12.4 million for the third quarter of 2012 was $7.2 million less than the exceptional trading profit of $19.6 million for the third quarter of 2011, which was not indicative of management’s ongoing organic growth expectations. Changes in exchange rates used to translate segment profit into U.S. dollars resulted in a $0.1 million adverse third-quarter impact in 2012.