BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) - China has doubled its rare earth mining quota for this year to a record high of 240,000 metric tons, government data showed on Monday.
Rare earths are a group of 17 elements used in products from lasers and military equipment to magnets found in electric vehicles, wind turbines and consumer electronics such as iPhones.
China's quotas are closely watched as a supply indicator and typically issued twice a year.
The full-year mining output quota for this year, including 120,000 tons issued in March, represents a 14% rise over 2022, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a joint statement.
That is, however, a smaller increase than the 25% implemented from 2021 to 2022.
The country's annual quota for smelting and separation of rare earths also rose by nearly 14% from 2022 to 230,000 tons, including 115,000 tons announced in March, the statement showed.
China is the world's largest producer and consumer of rare earths and rare earth magnets.
Rising supply has pushed down prices of rare earths and partly contributed to shrinking profits among major producers in the first half of the year.
Spot prices of praseodymium oxide in China SMM-REO-PXO have fallen 24% this year to stand at 530,000 yuan ($72,510) per ton on Friday, data from information provider Shanghai Metals Market showed.
One major producer, China Rare Earth Resources and Technology 000831.SZ, posted an 85.13% year-on-year drop in first half profit, according to its interim report.
China's exports of rare earths in August rose 30% from a year earlier to 4,775 tons, according to customs data.
($1 = 7.3093 Chinese yuan)
China 2023 rare earth mining output quota https://tmsnrt.rs/3PScyKb
China 2023 smelting and separation quota https://tmsnrt.rs/48tEtXV
(Reporting by Amy Lv and Dominique Patton in Beijing; Editing by Toby Chopra, Kirsten Donovan and Louise Heavens)
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