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Korean companies take 60% stake in Chinese rare-earth company

Korea Resources Corp. announced yesterday it has acquired a 60 percent share in China's Yixing Yongxin Rare-Earth Trade Co., Ltd (Yongxin85) at a cost of nearly 60 million yuan together with another Korean steel company POSCO.

Korea Resources said they hold 29 percent shares of the newly-established company POSCO Korea Yongxin Rare Earth Metal Co. while the Chinese partner Yongxin85 and the POSCO hold 40 percent and 31 percent shares, respectively.

Yongxin Rare-Earth Trade Co., Ltd (Yongxin85) is a trading company selling various types of rare-earth products found in March 2003.

It is believed Korean companies aim to obtain rare-earth resources from China by equity participation in Chinese companies.

China has the most rare-earth reserves in the world and is also the largest rare-earth manufacturing and exports country. Data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology shows the output of rare-earth products and smelt separation products in China in 2008 was 125,000 tons and 135,000 tons, respectively, of which China only consumed 70,000 tons and the majority was used up by other countries.

To protect the domestic resources and environment, China commenced tightening rare-earth export volume substantially in recent years.

However, Yongxin85 has no rights to export rare earth according to the rare-earth export quota issued by China's Ministry of Commerce.

Analysts said companies that have no rare-earth export rights are able to export rare earth from China by making use of policy loopholes via equity participation or other ways to cooperate with domestic companies that have the export quota.

By People's Daily Online

中文文本

韩国财团近6000万元收购中国稀土贸易公司

韩国资源公司(Korea Resources Corp)昨天表示,该公司与浦项制铁组成的财团已经以5976万元人民币收购了江苏省宜兴市永信稀土贸易有限公司(下称“永信稀土”)总计60%的股权。

这家公司在一份公告中称,永信稀土目前持有新公司Posco Kores Yongxin Rare Earth Metal Co.的40%股权,浦项制铁持股31%,韩国资源公司持股29%。

公开资料显示,永信稀土成立于2003年3月份,是以销售各种稀土产品为主要业务的贸易型公司。

韩国企业入股永信稀土的目的即是通过这家公司,从中国获得稀土资源。

中国是世界上最大的稀土储量国、生产国和出口国。工业和信息化部的统计数据显示,2008年,中国稀土矿产品产量为12.5万吨,稀土冶炼分离产品产量为13.5万吨。而2008年,中国稀土消费量只有7万吨,而世界稀土消费量为13万吨。

为了保护好国内资源和环境,最近几年尤其是从去年开始,国内开始大幅收紧稀土出口量。

但是记者注意到,在前两年商务部发布的稀土出口配额中,永信稀土并没有出口配额权。“没有出口配额,就没有权力出口稀土。”内蒙古自治区稀土行业协会副秘书长张安文告诉本报。

分析人士认为,没有稀土出口配额的公司,可能通过参股或者其他方式与国内具有稀土出口配额的公司进行合作,进而打“擦边球”从国内出口稀土资源。