CHINA - fast growing magnesium consumption

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TAIYUAN - China's magnesium consumption will grow rapidly by around 30 per cent in the years to come, making Asia the largest magnesium consumer in the world, predicted experts attending a magnesium and magnesium alloy industry seminar held here recently.

The Chinese magnesium market is the fastest growing in the world, with output estimated at 250,000 tons in 2007, surging from 150,000 tons in 2006.

The world's magnesium consumption will maintain a fast growth trend in the coming years. The consumption of western countries is predicted to grow steadily by 10 per cent and exceed 650,000 tons by 2010.

With unique advantages in resource, function and environmental protection, magnesium and magnesium alloy may be widely applied in the fields of automobile, motorcycle, 3C product, hand tool, civil use hardware, the market prospect is really broad. Among them, the aerospace, transportation and 3C industry will be major consumers of the light magnesium alloy, said experts.

Industry experts argue that when the mineral resources are developed and utilized on an increasingly large scale and the supply of resources becomes fiercer and fiercer, to energetically develop and use magnesium alloy, which can both save energy and reduce resource consumption, is of realistic significance to the sustainable development of humankind.

Abreast of the rising consumption, China's magnesium industry has maintained a fast growth trend for ten consecutive years and ranked the world's No.1 in terms of magnesium reserves, output and export.

According to data provided by the Magnesium Branch of China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association, China's raw magnesium production capacity surpassed one million tons in 2007, and its output reached 643,500 tons, growing 25.44 per cent year on year and 5.36 times over 1998. The annual growth in the period averaged 20.5 per cent.

At present, magnesium smelting enterprises in China are heading for bigger operations. Data shows that China's top 10 raw magnesium producers (including seven in north China's Shanxi Province) had a combined output of 346,300 tons in 2007, accounting for more than half of the national total, and rising 18.27 per cent year on year. The output of the top two, both in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi Province, made up one quarter of the national total.

The industrial structure is under adjustment, with more and more magnesium and magnesium alloy deep-processing enterprises mushrooming.

Incomplete statistics show that there are more than 90 enterprises engaged in magnesium deep processing at present. Some magnesium industrial bases and industrial clustering groups of different characteristics have taken shape all over the country.

Meanwhile, keen on the huge and potential magnesium application market and sufficient supply of magnesium alloy raw materials in China, foreign enterprises and Taiwan-based enterprises have set up many magnesium alloy die-casting plants in coastal cities such as Shenzhen and Dongguan. The world's ace magnesium alloy part and component enterprises including Meridian of Canada and George Fischer of Switzerland have all swarmed to build plants in China.

However, the energy-guzzling and high-pollution magnesium smelting industry faces huge pressure from demands to save energy and reduce emissions. Some enterprises in China have started to explore ways of applying new technology and techniques to save energy and reduce pollutant emissions, and some enterprises have also begun building cycling economy-type raw magnesium production lines.

It is learned that China has preliminarily set up a magnesium alloy technology research and development system and made breakthroughs in a batch of frontier core technology and key industrialization technologies, and it has also built a host of pilot industrialization bases and formed several magnesium industrial bases and industrial clustering groups in Chongqing, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Yangtze River delta, Pearl River delta and Qingdao respectively. Such a magnesium industry pattern lays a good foundation for China to achieve a leap from being a big magnesium resource owner to a strong magnesium producer.