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Cerium Oxide Prices Expected to Remain Volatile

Post Time:Jan 11,2012Classify:Industry NewsView:278

 

Even though rare earths element prices have dropped, uncertainty regarding its availability remains going into 2012. Cerium oxide, one of the 17 elements that compose rare earths elements, is the most efficient polishing material for glass. Float glass manufacturers also use cerium as a raw material in the glass melting process.

 

"The overall supply of cerium oxide has stabilized due to a decrease in demand worldwide," says Steven White, product specialist at Salem Distributing Co. in Salem, N.C. "As the price continued to rise, most users began to look at how they used cerium and made dramatic steps to reduce their consumption."

 

Despite unstable prices throughout 2011, rare earths prices are expected to stabilize some in 2012, according to a

 

"China has steadily cut the export of cerium oxide internationally about 35 percent from 2010 levels, which were already 40 percent lower than in 2009," White says. "China is consolidating and closing mines and limiting the mining, processing, and the amounts allowed to ship out of the country and has imposed a $100/kilogram export tax on pure cerium."

 

China had only exported 11,000 metric tons of rare earths through the first three quarters of 2011, according to the Forbes article.

 

"Our suppliers indicate that the Chinese reduced the amount of rare earth materials available for export by 45 percent," says Drew Mayberry, president of Lenoir Mirror in Lenoir, N.C. "Cerium is more readily available today than it was six to nine months ago. … Although the availability has improved, the cost has not dropped. We have responded by monitoring our usage much more carefully than we had in the past."

 

Says Kerry Wanstrath, president of Glass Technology Inc. in Durango, Colo., "I don't know if China actually reduced their output , but the simple fact that they made it very difficult to get cerium and the added export regulations created a waiting period that may have put certain cerium users' in a very bad place. … As a user and supplier of cerium, Glass Technology had to get weekly price updates to make sure we were not selling the product below our new cost; this created a very stressful relationship between supplier and end users."

 

The re-opening of a mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., owned by Molycorp Inc., will be a key factor in stabilizing prices in the United States, Lenoir says. That mine shut down in 2002 because of competition from cheaper Chinese suppliers, but resumed operation in December 2010.

 

For now, cerium suppliers are exploring alternatives, such as cerium impregnated wheels and compounds for slurries that don't contain cerium oxide, White says. "The alternative compounds so far can approach the speed and quality of cerium oxide, but the best materials cost close to what cerium can be obtained for," he says.

 

Source: http://www.usgnn.comAuthor: shangyi

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