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China’s rare earth exports plunge 69.1% in July, disrupted by COVID-19

China’s rare earth exports plunged 69.1 percent to 1,620 tonnes last month, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, said the country’s commerce authority on Thursday.

China customs data showed that China exported 22,800 tons of rare earths in the first seven months, a year-on-year decrease of 20.2 percent, said Gao Feng, spokesperson with the commerce ministry.

“Since the beginning of this year, the production and operation of downstream rare earth enterprises slowed down due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Gao, answering questions concerning the rare earth exports plunge.

Chinese companies do international business based on the changes in international market demand and risks, Gao noted, dispelling rumors about whether China uses rare earths as a countermeasure against the U.S.

China produces 95 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals, which have broad commercial and military applications. Eighty percent of the rare earths imported by the United States were from China and used in its defense systems and high-tech industry.

(Cover: A machine selects raw materials with high content of rare earths at a mine in Bayan Obo, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, October 27, 2010. /Xinhua)

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