UPDATE 1-China to speed launch of rare earth futures contracts, Shanghai exchange says


SHANGHAI, Nov 22 (Reuters) - China will accelerate the launch of futures contracts for rare earths, used in devices such as mobile telephones and batteries, an official of the Shanghai Futures Exchange said on Friday.

The exchange will also hasten its launch of alumina futures, Chen Ye, the head of its commodity department, told an industry conference, without saying which rare earth contract would be launched, or when.

China is the world’s largest processor and producer of rare earths, a group of 17 elements.

After the May breakdown of trade talks with the United States, industry participants had speculated China might exploit its dominant position as an exporter of the minerals.

The Shanghai Futures Exchange has been discussing a possible futures contract with China’s rare earth industry since 2014.

Last March it signed a pact with the Association of China Rare Earth Industry for research on the development of rare earth futures and other derivatives, the exchange said on its website. (Reporting by Emily Chow in Shanghai and Min Zhang in Beijing; Editing by Kim Coghill and Clarence Fernandez)