China will stick to its existing quota on rare earths exports, an industry expert from the Chinese Society of Rare Earths said Tuesday.
"Exports next year should be at about the same level as this year, or up slightly, per market demand," Chen Zhanheng, academic department director with the society, told the Global Times Tuesday.
Chen's comments come as Japanese media reports China is expected to resume exports of rare earth minerals to Japan.
Japan's Kyodo news agency said Tuesday that China had allowed companies to restart customs exporting procedures on rare earth minerals to Japan after a two-month embargo. The spat arose after a Japanese Coast Guard vessel detained a Chinese fishing boat captain near the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
Chinese enterprises are expected to restart the exports to Japan "soon" after applications are approved, according to the report.
China holds 30 percent of the world's rare earth supply, but mines over 90 per-cent of the world's rare earth elements. These elements have broad commercial and military applications, such as flat-screen TVs, missile-guidance systems and hybrid cars.
"The restart shows that the government has found ways to control rare earths' smuggling," said Chen, without elaborating.
Chen Jiansong, vice minister of commerce, said earlier this month that the export quota for next year would not decline dramatically.
And the ministry's spokesman, Yao Jian, said last Wednesday that next year's export quota is still under review, but the policy is not expected to be changed. But Yao did call on other countries with rare earths to explore the mineral as well.
Figures from Chinese Customs show that in the first nine months of this year, China exported 32,200 tons of rare earths, with an average price of $14,800 per ton. Nearly half that amount, or some 16,000 tons, was exported to Japan.
In an effort to secure its rare earths supply, Japan agreed with resource-rich Mongolia last Friday on joint exploitation of rare earth minerals in the central Asian country. And Reuters Tuesday reported that Australia stands by to be a secure and long-term supplier of rare earths to Japan.