South Korea’s rare earth imports from China grows in March

April 19, 2012 (Source: Shanghai Daily) — South Korea’s rare earth imports from China grew last month due to a fall in import prices, customs data showed Thursday.

South Korea purchased a total of 158 tons from China in March, up 57.4 percent from a month earlier, according to the Korea Customs Service.

Around 72.6 percent of South Korea’s imports of rare earth materials in March came from China, up 7.7 percentage points from the previous month.

The unit price of rare earth materials imported from China dropped 12.4 percent on-month to 46.73 U.S. dollars per kilogram last month, contributing to the country’s higher dependence on China.

Rare earth materials, including scandium and yttrium, are key components for modern-day technologies such as hybrid electric vehicles, liquidity crystal displays (LCD) and other high-tech products.

Rare earth imports from Japan tumbled 22.9 percent to 32 tons in March compared with a month earlier as prices surged 167.3 percent on-month to 41.2 dollars per kilogram last month, when 24 tons was imported from France.

In March, South Korea imported a total of 217 tons of rare earth materials, up 40.7 percent from a month earlier, according to the customs office.

Meanwhile, imports of some rare metals also increased in March on an on-month basis, with those of manganese, magnesium, indium, chrome, molybdenum, tungsten and titanium expanding 81.8 percent, 82.5 percent, 33.7 percent, 32.9 percent, 7 percent, 7 percent and 3.3 percent respectively.

In contrast, inbound shipments of cobalt and lithium contracted by 13.7 percent, 1.5 percent, respectively, over the cited period.

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