China To Tighten The REE Noose

Jia Yinsong, the Director of Rare Earths Office of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has been quoted by news reports as saying that according to the 2011 quota, the export volume for rare earths should have been 18,000 tonnes, but the actual amount was around 36,000 tonnes. This would mean that nearly half of the rare earths production was smuggled.

To curb the tendency, the government is all set to issue the new and special VAT

Hello Tokyo, we have a problem. I have no idea if Jia Yinsong is correct or not, when he was quoted suggesting that about half of China’s rare earth exports are illegal and smuggled, but if it’s anywhere near true and China is serious about stopping it, REE prices outside China are set to soar. Below, it looks to me like China is serious about stopping illegal REE exports. Most if not all of the illegal exports, was likely headed to Japan and South Korea, so China’s new value-added-tax for REE exports, looks likely to have far bigger impact on manufacturing that requires some of the REEs, than any decision by the World Trade Organisation on the complaint against China’s REE export taxes and regime, and probably still nearly two years away from adjudication. 

I suspect that financing for the next to market non-Chinese REE miners, will just get significantly easier, if China goes ahead in imposing a REE VAT.

China to impose rare earth tax
June 04 2012

China is looking to allocate a value-added tax (VAT) permit to rare earth companies in a bid to regulate overproduction of the mineral and to collect revenue. By issuing the special VAT slip, the government will have full control over which companies are exporting rare earths and what quantities they can export.

—-Though the percentage of VAT is, as yet, unclear, traders say it is bound to lift prices of rare earths out of China. Once instituted, the tax would be almost impossible to avoid. The government’s move would also mean strict control and supervision over the whole process, from production to sale.

Currently, the tax rate of mined light rare earths is 60 yuan per tonne, while that of medium and heavy rare earths is set at 30 yuan per tonne.

The new tax will allow plants with a production capacity of 1,000 million tonnes of light rare earth concentrates, to only sell around 450 to 500 million tonnes of rare earth oxides, that can be produced from the concentrates. If the company sells more, it would amount to underreporting of concentrates or obtaining output from elsewhere and selling illegally.

With interest rates at record and near record lows, and the initial public offering market beached by the Facebook Whale, there has probably never been a better time for the next to market REE producers to renew efforts to try to line up end user financing.