Molycorp (MCP) +5.4% premarket on a report that China exported 2,196 metric tons of rare earth in April, a 28% rise from March, and 6,112 tons in the first four months of this year, double the year-ago volume. The data indicates bargain hunting may be reviving global demand for rare earth metals.
China sets its H1 2013 export quota for rare earth resources at 15.5K metric tons to be split among 24 domestic producers. The quota is not always met due to weak global demand; China exported only ~13K metric tons of rare earth ores, metals and compounds in the first 11 months of this year, less than half the full-year 2012 quota.
China bows to pressure and increases this year's quota of rare earths by 2.7% to 30,996 metric tons. It's the first raise since 2005 and follows a slashing of the allocation in 2009. However, it's all largely symbolic, as exporters only used up half of last year's quota, with foreign sales down this year as well.
Molycorp (MCP) pops on a Bloomberg report seeing the company as a takeover play, and suggesting BHP and Rio Tinto (RIO) as possible buyers. One hedge fund manager (long the stock?) suggests the firm could fetch $60/share against the Friday close of $33.83. Shares +3% premarket.
Molycorp (MCP +7.3%) leads rare earth producers sharply higher, perhaps fueled by a 363% Y/Y profit gain reported overnight by Baotou Steel Rare Earth (which closed 8.4% higher in Shanghai). Still, the company says retreating rare earth prices from last year's H2 show no signs of rebounding.
The construction of a large rare earth metal refinery in Malaysia may be delayed further, as controversy continues to surround the project. Opposition parties in Malaysia are refusing to cooperate with a probe into the safety of the proposed plant, which is owned by Lynas of Australia and is one of two giant projects designed to break China’s near-monopoly on the production of rare earths.
Word China could double rare earth exports this year is less than meets the eye. A slowing global economy had China exporting only about one half of its government-mandated quota in 2011. The quotas for 2012 aren't changing, it's just hope sharply lower prices for the minerals will lead to a bump in demand and those quotas being hit.
China sets the first tranche of rare earth export quotas at 10,546 tons for 2012, and says overall export quotas for 2012 will be unchanged from 2011 to "guarantee" international demand and keep supplies "basically stable." The 2011 quota was 30,184 tons, but less than half of that was actually exported in the first 11 months.
Molycorp (MCP) promises to spend an additional $114M to accelerate the completion of its CA rare earth facility to early April (from July). The company is responding to plans of rare earth consumers to move to China in order to be assured of having access to needed supplies. Shares +3.4% premarket.
In an effort to prop up falling prices, Baotou Steel - China's largest rare earths producer - will suspend smelting operations for one month. This follows September's attempt to juice prices by buying one RE mineral at above market prices. Shares of the company fell 5.8% in Shanghai.
Molycorp (MCP) pops 6.4% premarket, encouraged by news China is tightening controls on rare earth exports. The shares could use a lift after falling by 35% over the past few sessions on word the prices of rare earth minerals are falling.
China continues to tighten environmental rules surrounding rare earth mines, breaking up and/or mothballing existing facilities in Jiangxi province, from where much of the planet's supply comes from. This isn't the first time China has cracked down, but locals describe the efforts as far more serious this go-round. REMX +2.6%.
Rare earth miners are shooting higher after a paper from GE's Lighting division, which relies heavily on rare earth minerals, states that "further price increases seem highly likely." GE also suggests stockpiling by dealers due to soaring prices is making a bad situation worse. MCP +5.3%. REE +4.9%. SHZ +7%. AVL +4.7%.