China sets rare earth export quota for second half

China has announced its closely watched export quota for rare earth minerals in the second half of this year, bringing the full-year total to 31,001 tonnes. China produces more than 95 percent of the world's rare earths, 17 elements critical to manufacturing everything from iPads to low-emission cars. The Ministry of Commerce said China will allow exports of 15,500 tonnes of rare earths in the six months to December, according to a statement released late Monday. The quota for the first half had been set at 15,501 tonnes. In a move which has angered trading partners, China has set production caps and export quotas on rare earths, saying it aims to protect resources and the environment in an effort to promote sustainable development. But the export quotas are often not fully taken up. China exported 16,265 tonnes in 2012, according to customs, just over half of the 30,966 tonne quota for the year after global demand slumped. However, China's biggest rare earth producer, Baotou Steel Rare-Earth, said Tuesday it would suspend production for six months at an ore processing plant due to government caps on production.

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