China rare earth prices turn higher as sellers insist on higher prices

Chinese rare earth magnetic materials prices edged up this week after suppliers stood firm behind higher offer prices, market sources told Fastmarkets

A series of steep price declines over the past two years has pushed prices close to, or even below, break-even in some cases globally, according to some industry sources. But large Chinese suppliers now appear to be sticking firmly to higher offer levels and rejecting lower bids.

“Neodymium-praseodymium oxide and metal prices are firming up this week, and it is hard to find cheaper materials on the spot market,” a trader said.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for neodymium-praseodymium oxide 99% ratio (75:25), fob China rose to $53-55 per kg on Thursday April 18, from $52-54 per kg per kg on April 11. 

Fastmarkets’ price for neodymium-praseodymium metal (Nd 75% Pr 25%), fob China increased to $66-68 per kg on April 18, from $65-67 per kg a week earlier.

“Demand hasn’t picked up significantly,” a producer said. “Some buyers that are in a hurry to buy neodymium-praseodymium are placing some orders, but others are still cautious about the rise and are monitoring the market.”

In Europe, prices for rare earth products mainly used in non-magnetic applications were less buoyant. Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for neodymium oxide 99.5%, cif Rotterdam was unchanged on 18 April at $53-55 per kg, while the assessment for praseodymium oxide 99.5%, cif Rotterdam increased slightly to $54-57 per kg on April 18, from $53-57 per kg a week earlier.

Neodymium oxide has growing applications in automotive catalysts and water treatment chemicals, and praseodymium oxide is used in the glass industry.

Heavy rare earth prices rise on expectations of lower supply

Dysprosium and terbium export prices also rose this week, supported by higher domestic prices and expectations of reduced supply.

Rare earth imports fell year on year in the first quarter. Market participants estimate that [heavy rare earth] ion-absorbed ore imports have dropped, which will mean reduced supply for medium and heavy rare earth products. So most sellers are insisting on higher prices,” the trader said.

According to China’s customs data, the country imported a grand total of 35,696.1 tonnes of rare earth in the first quarter of 2024, down by 11.1% compared with 40,169.2 tonnes in the same period of 2023.

“Dysprosium and terbium prices are on the rise. Downstream buyers have sent more enquires than previous weeks, and most sellers are reluctant to sell for less,” a second producer said.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for dysprosium oxide 99.5%, fob China increased to $275-335 per kg on April 18, from $270-330 per kg previously.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for dysprosium metal min 99%, fob China rose to $344-370 per kg on Thursday, from $340-360 per kg on April 11. And prices for ferro-dysprosium 80%, fob China increased to $272-280 per kg on April 18, from $260-270 per kg a week earlier.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for terbium oxide 99.99%, fob China increased to $870-900 per kg, up by $50 per kg from $820-850 per kg a week earlier, and the assessment for terbium metal min 99.9%, fob China rose to $1,090-1,120 per kg on April 18, from $1,000-1,030 per kg a week earlier.

But the price increases did not extend to non-magnetic applications.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for gadolinium oxide 99.99%-99.999%, fob China remained rangebound at $28-33 per kg on Thursday, unchanged for over a month. High-purity gadolinium oxide has applications in aerospace, medical diagnostics and nuclear power.

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