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Argus: China’s Southern Rare Earth ups Tb, Ho, Gd, Dy prices; rising magnet demand

Chinese medium and heavy rare earths producer Southern Rare Earth has continued to raise its weekly prices for terbium, holmium, gadolinium and dysprosium, supported by a shortage of spot supplies and firmer magnet demand, according to Argus.

Restocking demand from magnet manufacturing plants started to recover from mid-October because of limited rare earth feedstock inventories and a rise in magnet sales.

Rapid developments in China’s new energy vehicle (NEV) industry has fueled consumption of rare earth permanent magnets and bolstered rare earth feedstock prices, such as praseodymium-neodymium, dysprosium, terbium, gadolinium and holmium. Most rare earth separation and metal processing plants have sold out of production until early 2021, tightening spot supplies and pushing up domestic prices further, notes Argus. Argus produces price assessments and analysis of international energy and other commodity markets, in addition to offering bespoke consulting services and conferences.

China’s NEV industry began to recover in the second quarter of this year from the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, which started in late January, supported by government stimulus measures to encourage production and sales of such vehicles.

The country’s state council has announced a development plan for the NEV industry during 2021-25, targeting a 20% share of NEVs in the country’s total vehicles sales by 2025, up from the market share of only 4.7% in 2019.

Argus assessed the range for 99.99% terbium oxide at more than an eight-year high of CNY 6,170-6,220/kg ($945-953/kg) ex-works on 1 Dec, up by 28% from mid-October. Prices for 99.5% holmium oxide moved up by 35% from mid-October to CNY 560,000-570,000/t ex-works ($85,757-88,300/t), the highest level since Argus launched the assessment on 1 June this year.

Renewed demand from major rare earth and downstream metal processing plants prompted suppliers to raise dysprosium prices. The range for 99.5% dysprosium oxide rose to CNY 1,910-1,940/kg ex-works ($292-297/kg) on 1 Dec, up from the 15 October assessment of CNY 1,620-1,640/kg ex-works ($248-251/kg) after slumping from a year-to-date high of CNY 1,930-1,950/kg ex-works ($296-299/kg) on 29 June.

Argus assessed the range for 99.5-99.9% gadolinium oxide unchanged from 25 November at CNY 183,000-186,000/t ex-works ($28,000-28,500/t) on 1 Dec following a CNY 12,000/t rise from mid-November, driven by tightening spot supplies and rising spot purchases.

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