China increases total rare earth production quota by 12.5% in H1 2024

News Analysis




China increases total rare earth production quota by 12.5% in H1 2024

  • David Merriman

China announced the H1 2024 rare earth quota, with allocated volumes increasing by 12.5% for mining and 10.4% for refining year-on-year.

In a relatively early issuing compared to previous years, China’s Ministry of Industry, and Information Technology (MIIT) and Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) announced the H1 2024 rare earth production quota. The quotas totalled 135kt REO for mined products and 127kt REO for refining and smelting products, representing a 12.5% uplift to the mining quotas allocated by the MIIT and MNR in H1 2023, which themselves had increased 22.1% from H1 2022. Refining and separation quotas increased by 10.4% in H1 2024 compared to the previous year.

All quotas were allocated to two companies, China Northern Rare Earths Group (CNRE) and China Rare Earths Group (CREG), with CNRE assigned a mining quota of 94.5kt REO and CREG assigned 40.4kt REO. The increased H1 2024 quota sees CNRE's H1 allocation raised by 16.8% year-on-year, entirely for hard-rock rare earth ores. CNRE’s separating and refining quota increased by 19.9% year-on-year to 88.0kt REO.

CREG were awarded a 13.7% increase to their mining quota, largely for ionic adsorption clay ores, though this represents the consolidation of Xiamen Tungsten and Guangdong Rare Earth Group’s mining assets into CREG in 2023. When consolidation of these companies is considered, the increase in CREG’s quota year on year is only 3.4%. The separation quota for CREG increased by 17.1% to 39.0kt REO in H1 2024, though was down by 6.7% when refining and separation quota assigned to consolidated companies is attributed to CREG.

Across CNRE and CREG, most increases to mining quota were for light rare earth ores, with mining quota assigned to ionic clay type ores seeing a reduction of 7.3% year on year to 10.14kt REO. The reduction in ionic adsorption ore mining quotas suggests China will continue to become increasingly reliant upon imported heavy rare earth feedstocks from Myanmar, Laos and other sources in South America and Southeast Asia, critical for dysprosium and terbium production.