China said on Tuesday its rare earth exports rose 14.5 per cent in the Jan-Nov period of 2010 as prices more than doubled, with most of the shipments going to Japan, Europe and the United States.
'China will continue to supply rare earths to the international markets and manage rare earth export quotas according to rules of the World Trade Organization,' spokesman Yao Jian told during a regular briefing.
Mr Yao did not explain how exports exceeded the 2010 quota but it is possible that leftovers from the 2009 allotment were sold last year.
The value of the exports soared 171 per cent from a year earlier as prices for the minerals jumped by around 130 per cent, Yao said.
China mines about 90 percent of the world's rare earth minerals - which is a collection of seventeen chemical elements and is used to various technological devices, cellular phones, high performance batteries, flat screen televisions, green energy technology, and are critical to the future of hybrid and electric cars, high-tech military applications and superconductors and fiber-optic communication systems.
Earlier, China's Ministry of Commerce issued the first batch of 2011 rare earth export quotas and allotted 14,446 tonnes of quotas to 31 companies, compared to the 16,304 tonnes allocated 22 companies in the first batch a year ago.
China suspended shipments of the mineral to EU and US in October, media reports stated. The suspension came after there were indications that the U.S. would investigate if China was violating World Trade Organization rules by subsidizing clean energy exports and limiting clean energy imports.
China has been reducing export quotas of rare earth minerals for the past few years, citing environmental concerns. However, Wang Caifeng, who is in charge of setting up the China Rare Earth Industry Association, stated that China might slightly raise the production cap and export quota next year.
China, which mines more than 90 percent of the world's rare earth, has exported 6,000 tons, or 49.8 percent, of its total rare earth to Japan, representing 167 percent rise year on year, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.