China's Old Rare Earth Export Restrictions Under The New Export Control Law

A lot of media attention for China’s new export control law. As usual, there is a lot of media talk based on very little fact, so it is time for a fact-check.

To make it straight, plain and simple: If China wants to stop, restrict or otherwise meddle with rare earth exports, it most certainly won’t need a law to do that. The timing of the implementation of this new law is is of course no accident, a bit of sabre rattling.

The law unifies 9 pre-existing laws into this one comprehensive law along the models of corresponding, existing US and EU laws. It has been in the making long before Trump entered office.

This new law explicitly refers to
 export prohibition and restriction lists, originally drawn up in 2001 and amended in 2008, plus the update of the lists in August this year.

Apart from the know-how of Traditional Chinese Medicine, silk worm cultivation and ink for Chinese calligraphy, the 2001 original and 2008 updated 
export prohibition list contains following points regarding rare earth:
  • No. 050901J: Technology Name: Mining Engineering Technology, control point: leaching process of ion-type rare earth mines
  • No. 053101J: Technology name: Amorphous inorganic non-metallic materials production technology, control points: high-power, large-size neodymium glass preparation technology for laser technology
  • No. 053301J: Technology name: Non-ferrous metal metallurgy technology, control points: ion adsorption type rare earth heap leaching extraction technology and formula
  • No: 053302J: Technology name: Rare earth extraction, processing and utilisation technology, control points:
    1. Full extraction and continuous separation of rare earth elements and " multiple export " technology and parameters of rare earth extraction
    2. 2. Synthesis process of rare earth extractant
    3. 3. Process technology for extracting single rare earth (purity ≥99%)
    4. 3. Rare earth addition technology for metallic materials
    5. Production technology of rare earth alloy materials and products
    6. Process and parameters for extracting rare earth elements from ionic rare earth
The restricted list contains:
  • No. 053101X: Technical name : Daily use ceramics and its products production technology, control points:
    4. Formula and firing process of rare earth colour glaze for ceramics
  • No. 053104X: Technical name: Artificial crystal growth and processing technology, control points:
    9. Preparation technology of rare earth-iron (Tb-Dy-Fe series) giant magnetostrictive single crystal material
    (1) Climbing method pollution-free magnetic suspension cold crucible crystal growth process
    (2) Single crystal composition and structure control technology
  • No. 053401X: Technology Name: Heat Treatment Technology, control points:
    1. Mold heat treatment technology
    (1) Formula of rare earth-boron penetration agent
    (2) Rare earth-boronising treatment process
    2 . Earth, carbon, nitrogen, and total rare earth, nitrocarburizing process and infiltration of formula
    3 . Loader bucket teeth material and heat treatment process recipe
  • No. 053707X: Technical name: Aviation material production technology control points :
    1. Preparation technology of rare earth-containing aluminium-lithium alloy
    ( 1 ) The type and content of rare earth elements and the addition of rare earth elements
  • No. 053902X: Technology name: Wire and cable manufacturing technology, control points:
    3. 3. The formula and manufacturing process of the rare earth aluminium wire for conduction
These are only the headers. If you want the dirty details, please dive into the lists yourself.

In the 2020 update of these lists, we could not find changes referring to the a.m. rare earth relevant restrictions/prohibitions.

Considering the history since 2001, these rules may have been broken many times, first and foremost by China state-owned enterprises.

Think only Minmetals ionic clay leaching in Myanmar, China Nonferrous, Sinosteel et al installations at junior rare earth miners abroad or Shenghe Resources facilities in Vietnam and Thailand.

Our take: This is probably the last time, we’ll hear about this law.

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