China has increased its production quota for rare-earth metals by close to 30% for the first half of this year, according to a report by the Nikkei.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Natural Resources jointly announced that the production quota for the first half of this year will be 84,000 tons, a major jump from the 66,000 tons last year and the highest target to date for the first half.
Although it is the world’s dominant producer of rare earths, China still imports the minerals from abroad—primarily from Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam. Imports accounted for 47,000 tons, or about a quarter, of China’s rare-earth market last year.
The Nikkei said the quota increase is likely an effort to curb dependence on imported materials, especially in light of growing trade tensions with the US.
The quota for certain rare earths such as dysprosium, used to make magnets for EV motors, were raised by 20%.
The Chinese government gradually lifted its annual quota for rare-earth mining to 140,000 tons from 100,000 tons under its five-year plan through 2020. It announces a quota twice a year. The full-year total could end up breaking records as well, the Nikkei said.
The push is driven largely by growing domestic demand. China wants electric vehicles, hybrids and other eco-friendly vehicles to account for all new cars sold in the country by 2035, and is also looking to boost production of robots.