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Oct 20 China has curtailed exports of rare
earths, causing offshore consumers to consider alternative
supply sources for the minerals which are used in everything
from TV screens and computers to mobile phones and toys.
China supplies about 95 percent of the world's rare earths.
Following is a list of winners and losers if China's rare
earths exports dry up:
* Industrial manufacturers in Japan and Korea, which
consumed a fifth of the world's rare earths last year, would be
hardest hit by reduced Chinese exports. Sectors that would bear
the brunt of restricted supplies would be makers of metal
alloys, magnets, catalytic converters and polishing compounds.
* In the United States, manufacturers of catalytic
converters would suffer the most, followed by the metal
alloying and ceramic-making sectors.
* European Union consumers would face shortages mainly in
manufacturing of catalytic converters, given the high
concentration of auto-making in the region.
* Some new and mothballed rare earths producers would
likely get the green light to proceed if China's exports dried
up. Many of these projects did not make economic sense while
China completely dominated the market. The major projects are:
* Mountain Pass, located in the United States and owned by
Molycorp Minerals (MCP.AX): once the world's largest producer
of rare earths, the mine ceased removing ore from its open pit
in 2002. Molycorp has continued some production from existing
stocks and plans to restart mining an annual rate of 18,000
tonnes in 2012.
* Hoidas Lake (Canada, Great Western Minerals Group
GWG.V): the project is at an advanced exploration stage with
start-up tentatively scheduled for post-2014 at an annual rate
of 3,000-5000 tonnes a year.
* Nechalacho (Canada, Avalon Ventures Inc (AVL.TO)): early
exploration and costing work is underway to develop a project
in about five years producing 3,000-5,000 tonnes a year.
* Mt Weld (Australia, Lynas Corp (LYC.AX)): due to start up
in 2011, initially producing about 10,500 tonnes, rising to
21,000 tonnes annually in 2013.
* Dubbo Zirconia (Australia, Alkane Resources (ALK.AX)):
could be activated as early as 2013 at an annual rate of 2,500
* Nolans (Australia, Arafura Resources (ARU.AX)):
tentatively scheduled to be in production in 2014 and operating
at an annual rate of 20,000 tonnes.
* Kvanefjeld (Greenland, Greenland Minerals & Energy
(GGG.AX)): the mine is being designed to produce 20,000 tonnes
of rare earths as a co-product to uranium. No start date has
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Mark Bendeich)