South Korea's dependence on rare earth elements (REEs) from China fell last year as the country diversified its import base, according to a report by China's Global Times.
For the January to November period, REE imports from China accounted for 54.4 percent of total imports, down from 78.4 percent in 2011, according to the Korea Customs Service.
The report adds that the drop in imports was the result of the relatively high price of REEs imported from China — prices averaged $39.21 in 2012, "equal to 101.3 percent of the average price of total imports. The ratio was higher than 91.3 percent in 2011."
Meanwhile, REE imports from Japan increased to 27.9 percent last year from 7.8 percent in 2011.
China cuts 2013 REE export quotas
Rare Earth Investing News
last week that China has reduced, by 27 percent, its rare earth export quotas for the first half of 2013.
The country's Ministry of Commerce announced that 15,499 tonnes of rare earths will be allowed to leave the country; that includes 13,561 tonnes of light rare earths and 1,938 tonnes of heavies. The first-lot quota for 2012 was 21,226 tonnes.
Traditionally, China issues REE quotas in two batches. The second batch for 2012 totalled 9,770 tonnes, bringing the full-year quota to 30,996 tonnes, the highest in three years, according to the Taipei Times.
Producer halts production for third consecutive month
Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (SSE:600111), China's largest REE producer, confirmed that it will continue its production halt for a third consecutive month.
The company will halt firing, smelting and separation of REEs at its factories in Baotou, located in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, for one more month, it said in a statement filed with the Shanghai bourse.