Recent sharp increases in prices of rare earths are being attributed by some analysts to hoarding on the part of companies in China, according to reports this week in the Financial Times and other news sources.
China produces more than 90% of the world's rare earth elements. Rare earths are used in a wide variety of high-tech and other applications such as cell phones, computer hard drives, hybrid cars, sonar systems, lasers, nuclear reactors, LCD screens, and fluorescent lighting.
Prices have been on an upward trend since last year, when China cut rare earth exports by 40%, but have doubled in the past three weeks, the Financial Times said.
While major rare earths importers including Japan and the United States have raised concerns with China about price increases and possible supply constraints, industrial users have been exploring other areas around the world for supplies of rare earths.
Read recent news articles about rare earths:
Rare earth prices soar as China stocks up
Financial Times, 19 June 2011
Siemens seeks rare earths outside China after supplies curbed
Bloomberg, 22 June 2011
Montero Mining reports 15.48% rare earth grade from trenching at Wigu Hill
Proactive Investors, 22 June 2011