Take a little time to address some of the key errors that keep cropping up. First, let’s tackle one of my pet peeves. The term ‘rare-earth mineral’ is NOT synonymous with the terms ‘rare-earth elements’ or ‘rare-earth metals’.
Is this a simple misunderstanding of the numbers, or something more deliberate? Whatever the reason for the discrepancy, it illustrates the problem of uninformed commentators in the rare-earth sector and elsewhere.
Recent figures indicate that at no point since the introduction of export quotas several years ago, has the amount of rare-earth products exported through official channels, come close to the specified quota limit.
Thursday’s announcement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce included some minor adjustments to the quotas allocated in this second batch of confirmed allocations, resulting from the subsequent inclusion of data relating to the last months of 2011.
For 2012, the MLR has taken a different approach to the allocation of mining quotas. The first difference is that the ministry does not appear to have published a single list of mining quotas allocated to the provinces and regions, as it has in previous years
On Monday Molycorp announced that the estimated proven and probable reserves at its Mountain Pass rare-earth deposit in California have increased by 36%, based on the SEC’s Industry Guide 7 for making such estimates.
It can be seen then that China will have to do a better job of demonstrating the validity of its export restrictions on rare earths, than it did for bauxite, fluorspar and the other minerals and materials referenced in the recent dispute.
In the past couple of years the European Union has been increasingly focused on issues concerning strategic materials, including the REEs, and in that context, Norra Kärr is seen within the EU as a strategic asset.
In the announcement from the ministry, it was stated that the first round of quota allocations (totaling 24,904 t) will represent 80% of the quota allocations for 2012, which indicates that the total for the coming year will be 31,130 t of rare earths