The cost of making the latest gadgets could soar, as China announces it will cut its rare earth minerals export quota for the first half of 2011. The amount will be 35 per cent less than the quantity for the same period this year.
This is a major concern for manufacturers of high-tech items such as flat-screen TVs, smartphones and computer games consoles. Companies, including Apple and Sony, have already been scrambling to find alternative sources for the minerals, and cut down on their reliance on Chinese exports.
With 97 per cent of global supply coming from China, some analysts feel China may be trying to squeeze the market for its own benefit, though it claims to only want to maintain ample reserves.