The government of the United States is considering an
increase to 25% for the proposed import tariffs on a range of
Chinese mineral commodities, up from the original proposal of a
There will be a consultation period before new, higher
tariffs are imposed. The US government has extended its
previous deadline for submission of comments from August 30 to
The list, originally released on July 10, included goods
worth some $200 billion.
The move signals an escalation in the trade war between the
countries, while China holds firm on tariffs on US agricultural
exports, which in themselves are in retaliation for an earlier
round of US-imposed duties on Chinese-made steel and other
The tightly controlled Chinese currency has also been
depreciating against the dollar, a move which makes Chinese
exports more competitive in the US.
The commodities that would be affected by the higher import
duty rate include most minerals used in refractories, pigments,
oilfield applications, batteries, ceramics and chemicals.
In refractories, minerals on the list include graphite,
magnesia, alumina and silicon carbide as well as finished
refractory products such as various types of bricks, cements
China produces more than half the world’s
refractory materials, which are a key input for the steel
For oilfield minerals, the list includes barite and
One Indian barite exporter said that he had not seen any
increase in interest, despite the fact that China is the main
rival to India in shipping barite to the US.
"We haven’t altered our plans [because]
it’s very hard to know what’s going
to happen. [US President Donald Trump] says one thing, but then
it changes," he said. "We will see."
Pigments such as titanium dioxide, titanium feedstocks and
iron oxide pigment would also be affected.
Fluorspar and fluorochemicals are on the list, but the US
does not import significant volumes of either product from
Rare earths would also be hit by the proposed tariffs; China
is by far the world’s top producer of rare
In addition to the rare earth metals and their oxides, the
tariff list also includes permanent magnets, which would
include magnets made from the rare earths neodymium and
praseodymium. These magnets are used in electric motors for
Other minerals listed include antimony, lithium carbonate
and oxide, talc, kaolin, vermiculite, silica and quartz with
various specifications, mica, chamotte, sulfur, andalusite,
kyanite, sillimanite and dolomite.