China's rare earth exports fell to a five-year low in 2020 as more supplies were used in domestic industries as the new crown hit overseas demand, according to customs data released on Thursday.
The exports of rare earths in 2020 were 35,448 tons, down 23% from 46,330 tons in 2019, the lowest since 2015.
The General Administration of Customs announced that rare earth exports in December were 4,168 tons, up from 2,611.1 tons in November and 3,657 tons in December 2019.
China is the world's leading producer of rare earths. Exports have fallen sharply for two consecutive years, falling 12.6% in 2019.
The decline in rare-earth exports in 2020, says David Merriman Roskill manager of the consulting firm, is due to the anti-epidemic measures and “sluggish growth in demand from major end-users outside China”.
It said lower fuel consumption in the automotive and aviation sectors affected demand for rare earth catalysts.
“Domestic consumption is expected to grow as value added in China's rare earth industry continues to rise.” Merriman said.