Attendees also discussed whether recent price declines will affect the viability of rare earth facilities outside of China, such as Molycorp's Mountain Pass facility in California and Lynas Corporation's (ASX:LYC) operation in Malaysia.

Russia to invest in REEs

The Russian government has approved a $4.87-billion investment program focused on developing REE and rare metals production, Metal-Pages reported. Its aim is to meet domestic demand and enter the global market by 2020.

The program will reportedly focus on the exploration and development of resources, as well as the adoption of critical technologies to develop the production of strategic metals and REEs. It is part of a wider government strategy that is aimed at developing the scope and competitiveness of Russian industries, including ferrous and non-ferrous metal manufacturing.

Implementation of the program will take place in two stages, with the port city of Murmansk being the central production focus, according to a report by ProEdgeWire.

From 2013 to 2016, a series of research and exploration works will be completed. After that time, the explored fields will be registered. The second stage will involve the provision of state support to established enterprises in the form of loans, tax breaks and overall improvement of the licensing system.

The region — which already accounts for 75 percent of Russia's total REE reserves — presents an ideal opportunity, according to Marina Kovtun, governor of Murmansk.

Market round-up

Chinese praseodymium-neodymium oxide prices remain firm as suppliers show no plans to adjust prices during Chinese New Year (February 9 to 15).

Most players have left the market and only a few plants are producing during the New Year break, according to Metal-Pages. One producer based in Southern China stated, “[w]e have little stock and expect prices to rise slightly after the New Year break when consumers begin to buy. We will restart production in early March.”