China rare earths supplier suspends production

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BEIJING (AP) ? China’s biggest producer of rare earths is suspending production for one month in hopes of boosting slumping prices of the exotic minerals used in mobile phones and other high-tech products.

This week’s move by Inner Mongolia Baotou Steel Rare-Earth (Group) Hi-Tech might fuel tensions with the United States and Europe. They have questioned Beijing’s decision announced earlier to limit exports while it tries to develop its own manufacturers of magnets and other products made of rare earths.

Baotou Steel said in a statement that it wants to “balance supply and demand” after prices of rare earths fell amid uncertainty about the U.S. and European economic outlooks.