China, the world’s number one exporter of rare earth metals, just reported a year-over-year increase in its export of the materials, according to the Wall Street Journal. The increase was not modest either, with Q1 exports rising 33%.
With 95% of the world market under its thumb, China’s moves on rare earths matter a great deal for the market. What’s interesting is that it doesn’t appear the central government has complete control of the sector, with companies breaking rules about exports with frequency.
They’ve announced another crackdown, but there’s no guarantee that will work either.
Shares of industry bellwether Molycorp were up big Thursday on the news of the crackdown, but have since fallen back.