Development direction of tantalum and niobium market

China's tantalum and niobium industry started in the 1950 s. After years of development, it has gradually established a relatively complete industrial system with independent intellectual property rights from mining, mineral processing, smelting, processing to application. In recent years, Chinese tantalum and niobium enterprises have been determined to forge ahead, go abroad, participate in international market competition, and steadily embark on the road of industrialization, informatization, internationalization and capitalization. China's tantalum and niobium industry has made great progress and development in the modernization of enterprise management, production scale and R & D level, comprehensive utilization of tantalum and niobium resources, comprehensive environmental management, occupational health protection and safe production, international operation, capital operation and so on.
The production and research of capacitor-grade high-capacity tantalum powder and niobium powder, tantalum target material and high-purity smelting niobium material for superconductivity have reached the world's advanced level, and China has become an important production base of tantalum and niobium oxide, tantalum powder and tantalum and niobium processing material in the world, and is one of the main producers of tantalum smelting and processing in the world.
Basic Situation of Tantalum and Niobium Industry
Tantalum and niobium belong to the same group of elements in the periodic table of elements. Their physical and chemical properties are similar and coexist in the same ore, so they are called "twin brothers" in metals. Tantalum and niobium are refractory (high melting point) rare metals, with high melting point, high boiling point, low vapor pressure, good cold working performance, high chemical stability, strong resistance to liquid metal and acid and alkali corrosion, high dielectric constant of oxide film and so on.
Due to the tantalum and niobium metal surface to generate a layer of thin and dense passivation oxide film, can protect the metal layer below from corrosion, tantalum and niobium metal and its alloys in mineral acids (inorganic acids), organic acids, liquid metals and most salts have excellent corrosion resistance.
China's tantalum and niobium ore resources are very scarce, mainly dependent on foreign imports. Tantalum and niobium ore resources are characterized by dispersed veins, complex mineral composition, low grade of tantalum and niobium in the raw ore, and fine particle size of tantalum and niobium mineral embedding, mainly distributed in Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong, Xinjiang and Fujian.
At present, Yichun tantalum niobium mine is the only tantalum niobium resource mine with economic value in China, and has formed a mining enterprise with large-scale mining and sorting capacity. However, due to the low recovery rate and the inability to reach the production standard, the actual production in 2018 was only 20 tons/month, which failed to reduce the pressure of insufficient tantalum niobium raw materials in China.
China's smelting and processing enterprises are mainly distributed in Ningxia, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guangdong. At present, there are more than 10, forming an industrial group with diversified capital structure, such as state-owned, Sino-foreign joint ventures, foreign-funded enterprises and private enterprises. The products include compounds, metals, alloys and products, with a complete range of products, and are the major tantalum processing countries in the world. Tantalum and niobium are essential raw materials for the development of national economy and national defense industry.
Especially in the development of modern high-tech, tantalum and niobium has been more and more widely used, which has opened up a better development prospect for the future of tantalum and niobium industry.
Policies of Tantalum and Niobium Related Industries
1. Environmental tax law. The "the People's Republic of China Environmental Protection Tax Law" came into effect on January 1, 2018. Environmental protection taxes are levied in accordance with the provisions of the law, and sewage charges are no longer levied.
The taxpayers of environmental protection tax are enterprises, institutions and other production and business operators that directly discharge taxable pollutants into the environment in the People's Republic of China areas and other sea areas under the People's Republic of China jurisdiction. Specific taxable pollutants shall be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Environmental Protection Tax Items and Tax Amount Table and the Table of Taxable Pollutants and Equivalent Values attached to the Tax Law.
As the state strengthens the control of environmental protection, the solid waste generated by the tantalum niobium hydrometallurgical plant must be effectively treated and discharged to the standard, and the environmental protection cost of the smelter will also increase.
2. Industrial transfer guidance directory. Guiding the orderly transfer of industries is an important measure to implement the major regional strategic decisions and deployments of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, and it is also an inevitable requirement for promoting my country's industrial transformation and upgrading.
In order to implement the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, and promote China's high-quality economic development and regional coordinated development in the new era, according to the outline of the 13th five-year Plan, the outline of the National Land Planning (2016-2030) and relevant national industry planning and regional policy documents, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology organized the revision of the Industrial transfer guidance Catalog (2012) in 2018, the revision work revolves around the principles of "four persistence": first, adhere to market leadership and government guidance; second, adhere to the linkage between the upper and lower levels and make overall plans; third, adhere to support and control, with outstanding characteristics; fourth, adhere to keeping pace with the times and open up and cooperate.
The "Industrial Transfer Guidance Catalogue (2018 Version)" (draft for comments) was finally formed and publicized in November 2018. Among the industries mentioned in the central and western regions as priority for development include:(1) Jiangxi: Tungsten, Tantalum and Niobium Calendering (Ganzhou City, Jiujiang City, Nanchang City, Shangrao City)(2) Ningxia: Tantalum and Niobium Calendering (Shizuishan City)
3. Import waste management directory. In order to prevent and control environmental pollution by solid waste and protect human health, China prohibits the import of solid waste that cannot be used as raw materials, and implements restricted management and automatic import licensing management for the import of solid waste that can be used as raw materials, in April 2018, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the Ministry of Commerce, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the General Administration of Customs made the following adjustments to the current catalogue of solid wastes that can be used as raw materials for import restrictions, the catalogue of solid wastes that can be used as raw materials for non-restricted imports, and the catalogue of prohibited imports of solid wastes.
Transfer 16 varieties of solid waste from the Catalogue of Solid Wastes that can be used as Raw Materials for Restricted Imports and the Catalogue of Solid Wastes that can be used as Raw Materials for Non-Restricted Imports to the Catalogue of Solid Wastes that can be used as Raw Materials for Prohibited Imports, including niobium waste and scrap (Customs Commodity Number 8112924010), to be implemented as of December 31, 2019.
4. The reform plan of the compensation system for ecological environment damage. The ecological environment damage compensation system is an important part of the ecological civilization system. Through the trial implementation of the ecological environment damage compensation system nationwide, we will further clarify the scope of ecological environment damage compensation, the subject of responsibility, the subject of claim, and the solution of damage compensation, etc., form the corresponding appraisal and evaluation management and technical system, financial guarantee and operation mechanism, and gradually establish The restoration and compensation system for ecological environmental damage will accelerate the construction of ecological civilization.
The "Ecological Environment Damage Compensation System Reform Plan" issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council proposes that from January 1, 2018, the ecological environment damage compensation system will be piloted nationwide. The introduction of this plan indicates that the reform of the ecological environment damage compensation system has entered the stage of national trial from the first pilot.
By 2020, we will strive to initially build a nationwide ecological environment damage compensation system with clear responsibilities, smooth channels, technical specifications, strong guarantees, compensation in place, and effective restoration. The implementation of the ecological environment damage compensation system puts forward more stringent requirements for the disposal of radioactive waste residues in the tantalum and niobium industry in China.
5. Sino-US trade friction. On September 17, 2018, the U.S. government announced that it would impose a 10% import tariff on $200 billion of goods originating in China from September 24, and raise the tariff rate to 25% on January 1, 2019.
Among them, the United States imposes a 10% import tariff on some niobium oxides (tariff number 28259015) imported into China. In response to U.S. trade protectionism, China has imposed tariffs on some tantalum and niobium products imported from the United States. The tantalum and niobium products involved are as follows: tantalum scrap (tariff number 81033000), unwrought niobium, waste niobium, scrap, powder (tariff number 81129240).
6. Export tax rebates. In recent years, there have been frequent cases of trade frictions such as Sino-US trade. In order to protect and encourage domestic enterprises to compete fairly in the international market, in October 2018, the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation jointly issued the ''Notice on Adjusting the Export Tax Refund Rate of Certain Products [Caishui [2018] No. 123] ", raising the export tax rebate rate of some metal products and other products to 13%. The tantalum and niobium products involved are as follows: other tantalum wires (Tariff No. 81039019), other wrought tantalum and its products (81039090).
7. Conflict minerals. The Dodd-Frank Act of the United States and the EICC organization adopted a compulsory certification management system for imported minerals from conflict areas such as Congo, resulting in a decrease in the supply of tantalum ore in the international market, an increase in the cost of tantalum ore, and a sharp rise in the price of tantalum ore raw materials. The implementation of the EU's Conflict Minerals Regulation will further aggravate the tight global tantalum supply and high prices, and not only increase the production and supply costs of related smelting companies, it also brings pressure to deep processing enterprises, especially electronic information enterprises.
As the world's largest producer and exporter of electronic information equipment, China will be subject to more and more restrictions in the future development process. By the end of 2021, 15 member units in China have passed the CFS conflict-free smelter certification.
Main Problems in the Development of Tantalum and Niobium Industry
1. Tantalum niobium industry environmental protection issues. At present, the tantalum and niobium industry is facing a common problem and eager to solve is safety and environmental protection. How to deal with the radioactive slag produced by tantalum and niobium ore smelting has become a problem of concern to the whole industry. Among them, Guangdong Province requires temporary storage for stacking, but does not give a solution. At the same time, with the implementation of environmental taxes and environmental inspections, companies have increased their investment in environmental governance such as the disposal of fluoride-containing wastewater.
Because potassium fluorotantalate is a hazardous chemical, the enterprises producing potassium fluorotantalate in the tantalum and niobium industry are all hazardous chemical production enterprises, and more stringent environmental prevention and control standards need to be implemented. Among them, some enterprises with weak profits and high environmental pressure in the industry are facing the danger of relocation or even closure. At the same time, due to the improvement of environmental protection requirements, the production cost of enterprises has increased, and the price advantage has been reduced in the face of foreign competitors.
2. Tantalum and niobium resources security issues. Tantalum niobium industry is a two-headed external processing industry, resource security and demand affect the stable development of tantalum niobium industry. China's tantalum mineral resources are characterized by few large minerals, few rich minerals and low grade, while the grade of foreign mines is mostly above 0.02. At present, China's dependence on tantalum and niobium raw materials reaches above 80%. The tight supply of tantalum and niobium raw materials restricts the sustained and healthy development of China's tantalum and niobium industry. At the same time, the demand for civil use has declined in downstream applications with the emergence of high specific capacitance capacitors and alternative products.
3. Products are concentrated in the low-end. In recent years, although China's tantalum and niobium industry has made certain progress in technology, the production is mainly concentrated in the low-end products. Compared with the international advanced counterparts, the technical content is not high, and there is a certain gap in scale, technology and innovation. However, due to price reasons, foreign suppliers increase the procurement of low-end products produced in China and reduce the procurement of tantalum wires for capacitors, it is a great impact on China's high value-added products and affects the process of China's industrial restructuring.
At present, in the downstream tantalum capacitor industry, the demand for military equipment has remained relatively stable, but in recent years, there has been no breakthrough in civilian use. One of the most important reasons is that international manufacturers have not adopted domestic components in product design. The lack of corresponding standards makes it difficult for the domestic capacitor industry to enter the international market.
Development direction of niobium industry
The report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China pointed out that man and nature are the community of life, and human beings must respect nature, conform to nature, and protect nature. The modernization we want to build is a modernization of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. It is necessary to create more material and spiritual wealth to meet the people's growing needs for a better life, and to provide more high-quality ecological products to meet the people's growing beautiful ecology. Environmental needs. We must adhere to the policy of giving priority to conservation, protection and natural restoration, so as to form a spatial pattern, industrial structure, mode of production and way of life of saving and protecting resources, and return nature to tranquility, harmony and beauty.
In the context of the new era, on the one hand, with the continuous advancement of energy conservation and emission reduction, the country's demand for high-tech materials development planning and high-tech products is urgent, and industrial development has certain potential.
On the other hand, the global 5G era has arrived, and the stability requirements of large base stations in 5G networks have enabled the stable characteristics of tantalum capacitors to be brought into play. Therefore, to promote the high-quality development of tantalum and niobium industry, we should take "green smelting, improve performance and expand application" as the goal, and focus on the following work:
1. Promote green development and protect the ecological environment. The establishment of a green and intelligent tantalum and niobium smelting system with advanced technology, energy saving and environmental protection is an important foundation and prerequisite for the sustainable development of the tantalum and niobium industry. We should give full play to the reversing mechanism of environmental protection policy, urge tantalum and niobium smelting enterprises to speed up technological innovation and transformation, improve the ability of energy conservation, emission reduction and pollution prevention, and concentrate on the joint development of green smelting technology. It is imperative to further standardize the industry order, improve the threshold of technology, environmental protection and comprehensive utilization of resources, guide the industry to continuously improve technology, solve the problem of radioactive smelting slag disposal, and attach importance to green development.
2. Change the concept of development and accelerate industrial transformation and upgrading. Tantalum and niobium industry is a processing-oriented, raw material imports and exports of end products outside the two processing industries. In recent years, the scale of China's tantalum and niobium industry has expanded rapidly.
The central government has always emphasized deepening supply-side reforms. If you want to run enterprises well, you must have quality and efficiency, rather than continue to expand the scale. In the depressed environment of the entire international tantalum market, it is necessary to strengthen information sharing within the industry, create an exchange platform for enterprises through industry associations, promote cooperation and docking among domestic enterprises, and support scientific research institutes and enterprises in scientific and technological research and development, achievement transformation, and product development. Carry out in-depth cooperation in marketing and other aspects, concentrate efforts, and enhance the anti-risk ability of domestic tantalum and niobium production enterprises. Accelerate industrial transformation and upgrading and comprehensive utilization of resources, and promote the sustainable and healthy development of the entire industry.
3. Expand downstream applications and extend the tantalum industry chain. With the development of cloud computing, big data, 5G network and other technologies, traditional industries are facing the general trend of comprehensive upgrading, and intelligent and green development has become the general direction. In order not to be eliminated, only by focusing on technology development can we occupy the commanding heights of future competition.
Tantalum and niobium industry should cooperate with upstream and downstream enterprises to promote the rapid development of technologies in application fields such as tantalum powder for tantalum capacitors, stimulate the demand of downstream enterprises for products of upstream enterprises, gradually realize that the internal supply of tantalum and niobium products is greater than that of exports, seize the opportunity of rapid development of military electronic industry in recent years, and improve the role and status of tantalum and niobium in the process of industrialization in China.
4. Carry out international cooperation to enhance international competitiveness. Tantalum niobium industry is an international industry, do not carry out international cooperation, enterprises will not be competitive. In recent years, with the national "Belt and Road Initiative" and other initiatives, we have increased support for the development of overseas resources, encouraged the use of overseas resources, formulated strategies and plans for the development of overseas resources, increased the recovery of secondary raw materials, encouraged enterprises to improve the utilization efficiency of existing resources through technological transformation, actively promoted the integration of tantalum and niobium resources, realized the scale and intensification of resource development, and improved the efficiency of resource utilization.
As long as we can grasp the current favorable opportunity for the structural adjustment of the world's non-ferrous metals industry, implement the "going out" development strategy, and create conditions for domestic enterprises to participate in international competition fairly, the industry can obtain new development space. With the continuous advancement of the national "Belt and Road" initiative, domestic and foreign connectivity, in-depth and pragmatic cooperation, innovation is productivity, enterprises rely on it to be strong, and the country depends on it to prosper.
We must comply with the development trend of the fourth industrial revolution, jointly grasp the development opportunities of digitalization, networking, and intelligence, jointly explore new technologies, new formats, and new models, and explore new growth momentum and development paths. With the support of existing national policies, the non-ferrous metal industry is accelerating industrial transformation and upgrading and strengthening international cooperation.
We must have firm faith and confidence, believe that a beautiful spring of tantalum and niobium will surely come, and make new contributions to the realization of the Chinese dream of a powerful non-ferrous metal industry and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.