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Chinalco Giving U.S. Investors a Way to Play China Rare Earths

BEIJING (TheStreet) -- A Chinese government decision to consolidate mining companies has given U.S. stock investors a rare shot at playing the world’s biggest rare earths mineral sector.

That’s because U.S.-listed Aluminum Corp. of China (Chinalco) (ACH) was named this week to run one of three groups that will eventually handle most if not all the nation’s rare earths extraction, smelting and processing.

Other mining groups formed under an order issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will be controlled by Baotou Steel Rare Earth and Xiamen Tungsten.

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Baotou and Xiamen are listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange which is closed to direct trading by foreigners but accessible via funds through the Chinese government’s Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program. Chinalco, meanwhile, is listed on the New York and Hong Kong markets.

Over the past month, Chinalco’s New York price has risen about 25%, trading late Friday at about $11.20 a share.

The new groups are expected to oversee about 31 companies that today make up China’s rare earths sector which produces about 90% of the global demand for 17, hard-to-find minerals. These minerals are vital for a variety of modern goods including mobile phones, lasers and hybrid cars.

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