More Chinese Firms Halt Rare Earth OperationsAluminum Corporation of China’s Jiangsu company confirmed that it has halted operations at four rare earth element (REE) smelting and separation factories, according to Chinese media sources.

The announcement comes on the back of a similar move by Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (SSE:600111) last month.

When questioned on how long the halt in production might last, China Daily quoted an anonymous source saying: “[i]t should not last too long. Because of flagging domestic demand and declining overseas orders as more and more foreign buyers turn to foreign suppliers, the price has dropped. The production will resume after the price can offer reasonable profits.”

The news site reported that Jiangsu Provincial Rare Earth Guild recommends major rare earth smelting and separation firms halt their production as of November.

Toyota affirms equity stake in Canadian rare earth project

Toyotsu Rare Earth Canada, a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho (TSE:8015), paid Matamec Explorations (TSXV:MAT) C$1,119,776 — the second in a series of payments for its committed equity of 49 percent undivided interest in the Kipawa heavy rare earth element (HREE) deposit. Matamec confirmed the payment in a press release.

As per the terms of the agreement, the Japanese-owned subsidiary paid C$8.5 million for a 25 percent undivided interest in July and in order to secure the remaining 24 percent, Matamec agreed to receive successive payments to reach the agreed total.

Toyotsu has since agreed to purchase 100 percent of the company’s mixed rare earth oxide concentrate once it reaches production phase.

Market round-up

Rare earth prices rallied this week when China Minmetals announced that its smelting plants would suspend production in order to stabilize market prices.

With the added support of Baotou Steel Rare-Earth stockpiling praseodymium/neodymium oxide and europium oxide, suppliers have been encouraged to raise offer prices. Sources noted that praseodymium/neodymium demand has increased as a result.

Demand for most other rare earths has seen little improvement despite raised offer prices, Metal-Pages reported.

Market sources stated that $48,065/tonne for 99 percent praseodymium/neodymium oxide has been seen at market, although downstream consumer purchasing has been less active than expected. Europium oxide offer prices have increased markedly over the past week, although sources claim that downstream sales have remained flat.

There has been little improvement in the cerium oxide market, although offer prices for many other rare earths have increased. Lower prices of approximately $7,530/tonne for 99 to 99.9 percent cerium oxide are being recorded, although some suppliers are holding out at $8,010/tonne.

Company news

Search Minerals (TSXV:SMY) received an updated mineral resource estimate for its Foxtrot project in Southeast Labrador’s Port Hope Simpson REE district. It confirmed that results from the phase-three drill program have increased the resource estimate by 55 percent of a similar grade.

Highlights include 9,229,000 tonnes of indicated mineral resources with a grade of 0.17 percent HREE, equivalent to 0.21 percent heavy rare earth oxide (HREO), and 0.88 percent total rare earth elements, equivalent to 1.07 percent HREO. These include 189 parts per million (ppm) dysprosium and 1,442 ppm neodymium.

The company’s president and CEO, Jim Clucas, commented, “[t]he significant increase in both size and quality of the resource gives us the flexibility to consider different production scenarios including a starter pit and a smaller high grade underground mine.”

Manicouagan Minerals (TSXV:MAM) announced assay results from its Cloridorme property, located on Qubec’s Gaspé Peninsula. A total of 39 samples returned significant values of alumina, according to a press release.

The company noted that red mudstone samples returned an average of 430 ppm total rare earth oxides (TREO), which is comparable to the TREO content reported by Orbite Aluminae (TSX:ORT,OTCQX:EORBF) at its Marin aluminous argillite deposit. The two green mudstone samples displayed a lower TREO average of 257 ppm. TREO includes lanthanum oxide to lutetium oxide plus yttrium oxide.

Quest Rare Minerals (TSX:QRM,AMEX:QRM) announced a revised NI 43-101 compliant indicated and inferred resource estimate for its B-Zone REE deposit at the Strange Lake project, Quebec. Resources for the deposit have more than doubled with the latest estimate.

Highlights include the B-Zone, which contains an indicated resource of 278.1 million tonnes grading 0.93 percent TREO, 1.92 percent zirconium oxide, 0.18 percent niobium pentoxide and 0.05 percent hafnium oxide, according to the press release. It also contains a higher-grade “enriched zone” of 20 million tonnes at 1.44 percent TREO. The B-Zone hosts a further inferred resource of 214.4 million tonnes grading 0.85 percent TREO.

The company noted that the increased resource will provide important flexibility for the mine plan and will support a substantial project life.

 

Securities Disclosure: I, Adam Currie, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.