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Shanghai (AFP) Dec 28, 2012
China on Friday announced its export quota for rare earth resources for the first half of next year amid declining prices and weak demand in the global market.
China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths, 17 elements critical to manufacturing everything from iPads to low-emission cars.
The country has set production caps and export quotas on rare earths, saying it aims to protect resources and the environment in an effort to promote sustainable development.
But China's control over the sought-after resources has sparked a dispute with major trading partners.
The government will initially allow exports of 15,501 tonnes of the resources in the first six months of 2013, the Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
The quota accounts for roughly half of the full-year limit of 30,966 tonnes for this year and will be split among 24 domestic producers, the ministry said.
The announcement came after China's largest rare earths producer, Baotou Steel Rare-Earth, on Tuesday said it would suspend some of its production for a third month in an effort to stem falling prices.
The price of praseodymium-neodymium oxide, a rare earths compound used for ceramics and magnetic materials, has slid to around 300,000 yuan ($48,000) per tonne, less than one fourth the level at the highest point last year, China's official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
China grants two batches of export quotas on rare earth resources each year but the quota has not always been met due to flagging global demand.
The country only exported 13,014 tonnes of rare earth ores, metals and compounds in the first 11 months of this year, less than half of the full-year quota of 2012, according to customs data.
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