China Bans Export of Rare Earths Extraction and Processing Technology

A Chinese ban on graphite products used in EVs took effect on December 1


In yet another move to protect its control over clean energy supply chains, China has banned the export of technology to extract and process some rare earth metals.

The technology finds application in electric vehicles and wind turbines.

China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Science and Technology published a revised “Catalogue of China’s Export Prohibited and Restricted Technologies,” in which 34 technical items were deleted, four new items were added, and the control points and technical parameters of 37 technical items were modified.

A government spokesman said the revision was a ‘routine adjustment’ to the catalog in response to technological developments and the needs of technology trade management.

“China has always insisted on promoting reform and development through opening up, actively facilitated the orderly flow of technology and other innovation elements across borders, and actively integrated into the global innovation network. We will continue to promote open cooperation, continue to optimize the business environment, share China’s technological development achievements with other countries around the world, and make positive contributions to world economic growth and improving human welfare,” the spokesman said.

This is not the first time China has resorted to what critics call ‘resource nationalism.’ A ‘temporary’ export control of sensitive graphite products, including highly sensitive spheroidized graphite, used in EV batteries took effect on December 1.

The announcement of the export restrictions came close on the heels of the EU announcing it would launch an investigation against importing cheaper Chinese EVs, which it says benefit from state subsidies.

Earlier this year, China had proposed banning the export of critical technology relating to solar photovoltaic components.

China’s latest move is among a series of actions taken by various countries to gain access to critical minerals. The U.S., for example, sealed trade deals with the European Union and Japan and reduced reliance on China for resources in clean energy technologies.

The U.S., EU, and 13 countries have also formed a Minerals Security Partnership to catalyze global public and private investment in critical minerals supply chains.