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Rare earths producers outside China turn to long-term contracts

Australian rare-earth miner Lynas recently built a processing plant in Malaysia.

TOKYO -- Australian and U.S. rare-earth metals producers are asking buyers to sign long-term contracts with higher prices in exchange for guaranteed supplies.

     Prices for rare earths prices spiked in 2011 when China, the world's largest producer, virtually halted exports. But prices later plunged and international prices have remained weak over the past two years or so.

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