BEIJING, Feb 19 (Reuters) – China has raised its output quota for rare earth minerals in the first half of 2020 by 10% from a year earlier, a government notice showed on Wednesday, looking to step up production after a coronavirus outbreak disrupted activity in the sector.
China is the world’s top producer of rare earths, a prized group of 17 elements used in everything from ceramics to consumer electronics. The quotas are typically issued twice a year and closely watched as a supply indicator.
The first rare earth mining output quota for 2020 was set at 66,000 tonnes, equal to 50% of last year’s total allocation of 132,000 tonnes, according to a notice from the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
That is up from 60,000 tonnes for the first half of 2019. The notice made no mention of a smelting and separation quota for the processing of rare earth ore into material that can be used by manufacturers.
The smelting and separation quota is usually issued at the same time as the mining quota and was 57,500 tonnes in the first half of 2019.