China, the world's stronghold of rare earths, is set to go on a splurging spree in October for the precious elements.
Six of China's large rare earths producers have been reported likely to purchase large amounts of the minerals next month. These companies include Baotou Steel Rare Earth Hi-Tech Co; China Minmetal Rare Earth Co Ltd; China Nonferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co Ltd; Chinalco Rare Earth Jiangsu Co Ltd; Rising Nonferrous Metals Co Ltd and Ganzhou Rare Earth Mineral Industry Co Ltd.
Beijing has allocated 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) for the acquisition plan.
The development immediately fired up the enthusiasm among the shareholders of Australian rare earths mining firms, including Greenland Mining and Minerals (ASX: GGG), Hastings Rare Metals (ASX: HAS), Peak Resources (ASX: PEK) and Alkane Resources (ASX: ALK), as well as other global rare earths miners such as Molycorp, Rare Element Resources and Avalon Rare Metals.
Next month's shopping of rare earths by China specifically target 10,000 tonnes of medium and heavy rare earths, less common but considered more valuable than light rare earths, according to Du Shuaibing, an analyst with market trends firm Baichuan Information.
Prices of the precious minerals had been sliding despite the global strong supplies and continue to remain depressed in the fourth quarter, Mr Shuaibing said.
Rare earths are 17 elements found on the periodic table, used for a variety of purposes such as running or operating hybrid vehicles, rechargeable batteries, wind turbines (renewable energy) mobile (cell) phones, flat screen display panels, compact fluorescent light bulbs, laptop computers, disk drives and catalytic converters, among others.