Two of China’s largest rare earth producers have agreed to jointly develop the increasingly lucrative metals, they said Thursday, as Beijing tightens control over the industry.
Rising Nonferrous Metals Share Co Ltd and Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-tech Co Ltd ‒ the listed arms of state-owned companies ‒ said they signed a deal this week to cooperate “extensively” in the sector.
They will work together on capital, processing and technological uses of the 17 elements critical to making everything from iPods to electric cars and missiles, according to statements to the Shanghai stock exchange.
The two said they would also cooperate to “maintain market stability”.
China produces more than 95 per cent of the world’s rare earths, which are usually divided as heavy and light. Heavy rare earths are more expensive than the light elements due to their scarcity.
Rising Nonferrous Metals Share, based in the southern province of Guangdong, is one of the major heavy rare earth producers in China, while Baotou Steel Rare-Earth is the nation’s largest light rare earth producer by output.
China has taken a series of measures to tighten control over the industry, citing environmental concerns and domestic demand ‒ moves that have triggered complaints from foreign buyers.
They have slashed export quotas, consolidated the industry and announced plans to build national reserves.