Why it matters: It's the lowest recoded amount since 2015 for the world's leading miner, processor and exporter of the materials, which are crucial in the manufacturing of commercial electronics, renewable energy development and military equipment.
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Yes, but: The decrease in exports is in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, which damaged global demand for the minerals and metals.
By the numbers: The fall also comes despite efforts from China's government to ramp up production of rare earths in the last year.
It raised its quota for rare earth mining over the summer by 6.1% to 140,000 tonnes — a record high for the country and its third annual quota increase in a row, according to Reuters.
The big picture: The U.S., a primary importer of Chinese rare earths, has sought to reduce its dependence on China after the country threatened to stop exporting the materials to the U.S. in 2019 in response to the trade war and the Trump administration's blacklisting of tech company Huawei.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the U.S. imported 80% of its rare earth supplies from China between 2015 and 2018, though the U.S. Army has recently drafted plans to establish a domestic supply by funding private mines and processing plants.
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