China has formally unveiled on Wednesday a physical trading platform for rare earth metals.
The rare earth trading platform, found in Baotou in north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, was launched by Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech Co. along with nine other firms and institutions.
The global rare earths sector has a new player. On Wednesday, Deutsche Rohstoff AG, a German mining and commodity group, announced it will expand existing mining operations in the Delitzsch region of east Germany to develop an estimated rare earths deposit of 38,000 tonnes.
Inner Mongolia holds more than half of the light rare earth output of the world.
The group invested a total of 100 million yuan (US$15.77 million) for the platform. Each shareholder advanced 10 million yuan and maintains a 10 per cent stake, Xinhua News reported.
Ma Pengqi, an expert on rare earths and former director of the Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, told Xinhua News the trading platform will give China more leeway in dictating the world prices of rare earths.
The creation of the platform is China's latest attempt to gain and set more control over the global pricing of key industrial commodities. In May 2011, it launched a physical trading platform for iron ore. Proposals to set up an oil trading platform to rival benchmark crude prices in New York and London are likewise being planned.
In June, China admitted it had already started stockpiling its rare earths, taking advantage of the weak prices, apart from the rare earths industry association it had set up.
The curbs, the platform, the stockpiles and the association are all meant to enable China to gain greater influence in the price determination of the essential minerals.
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