China’s deliveries of rare earth magnets to the USA slumped 3.9% in June from the last month, customs data confirmed on Saturday, as concerns persist that Beijing will control the supply of rare earth items as a part of its trade spat with Washington.
The most recent data came after U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday informed the Pentagon to seek out better methods to procure samarium-cobalt rare earth everlasting magnets, utilized in specialty motors, warning that the country’s defense would suffer without enough stockpiles.
China is the world’s principal producer of rare earth magnets that are extensively used in medical units and consumer electronics in addition to defense, though Trump in August 2018 signed a policy bill outlawing their purchase from China for military use in the 2019 fiscal year.
China’s exports to the US of everlasting rare earth magnets, or rare-earth materials that shall be turned into everlasting magnets, came in at 414,100 kg, or nearly 414 tonnes in June, the data from the General Administration of Customs confirmed.
That was down 3.9% from 431 tonnes in May, which was the highest month-to-month total since at least 2016, and up 1.45% yearly.
David Merriman, manager of battery and e-vehicle materials at consultancy Roskill, said before the customs numbers came out the U.S. Division of Defense’s purchases of rare earth everlasting magnets are “relatively minor” when in comparison with imports for electronic, automotive and other functions.
In terms of samarium-cobalt magnets, “the interesting pattern has been the surge in (U.S.) imports from the Philippines and Malaysia, suggesting a shift to greater imports from Japanese-owned producers,” he added, noting that Japan’s Shin-Etsu has samarium-cobalt manufacturing centers in both those Southeast Asian nations.