June 11, 2019 / 7:50 AM / 6 days ago

China Minmetals Rare Earth starts new mining project in Hunan

FILE PHOTO: Molten rare earth metal Lanthanum is poured into a mold at Jinyuan Company's smelting workshop near the town of Damao in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, October 31, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray

BEIJING (Reuters) - China Minmetals Rare Earth, one of the country’s largest rare earth miners, has begun construction of a new mining project in the central province of Hunan, the company said on Tuesday.

The project in Jianghua county is expected to begin production in February 2020, with estimated output of 1,800 tonnes a year of rare earth oxides, China Minmetals told Reuters by email.

The deposit has ore reserves of 104,300 tonnes, according to the company website.

Prices of rare earths, a group of 17 elements used in a wide-range of products from lasers and military equipment to consumer electronics, have hit multi-year highs following a flurry of reports that Beijing could use them in its trade war against Washington.

Rare earth exports by China, which supplied 80% of imports by the United States from 2014 to 2017, fell 16% in May from a month earlier.

China Minmetals Rare Earth, a subsidiary of state-backed China Minmetals Corp, produced 4,101 tonnes of rare earth oxides in 2018, up 19% from a year earlier, according to a company filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Shares in China Minmetals Rare Earth rose 10% to 16.87 yuan on Tuesday, a near two-week high.

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Shivani Singh; editing by Richard Pullin

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