China is building up stocks of rare earth metals and cutting quotas, causing prices to double in the last couple of weeks, according to the Independent.
The metals are used in electrical items such as TVs and computers, and China produces 95 per cent of the world’s supply.
China has cited a more responsible attitude to mining of these materials as the reason for cracking down on unregulated mining and restricting exports. As a result, it is now building up a national reserve of these materials.
The Independent reports that some of the materials have increased in price by 400 to 500 per cent this year as big government-owned companies such as Baotou Iron and Steel build up commercial reserves of more than 200,000 tonnes, which is around twice China’s annual output.
The price of europium oxide for example, which is used in energy-saving lightbulbs, plasma TVs and smartphones has tripled from about $1,260 per kilogram a few weeks ago to around $3,400.