China Rare Earth Report: Rich Resources, Producer Coordination and Technology Lead Global Sector

Pioneering Park of Baotou National Rear Earth Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone
Pioneering Park of Baotou National Rear Earth Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone is in operation

Editor’s Report: The story below originates in China and was translated by our staff.  The story is exceptionally well reported by journalists in China.  We encourage visitors to GlobalREEsVenture to read this story, as it provide insight about the enormity of China’s rare earth mineral resource, focus on technology and coordination at a country level.  There will be a day when China’s rare earth element supplies are diminished, but it looks to be well into the future.  It is useful to note how Chinese companies and research institutions are identifying sources of rare earth elements and extraction technology from goods produced outside the country, including foreign steel.   The USA and other countries might benefit from observing the national coordination underway in China.  From nascent rare earth reserves to new sources like coal-based REES, there are substantial sources of rare earth elements in the USA and other parts outside of China.  GlobalREEsVenture believes there is much to gain by better coordination among companies, state governments, academic institutions and the federal government in America. GlobalREEsVenture wants to reiterate our view that a healthy rare earth and critical material marketplace would good for everyone in the world.  Is it conceivable that we could see REEs sourcing and production equal to 50% of world consumption from places outside of China?  We know this would benefit the supply chain and make restive industrial customers happy.   If the story that follows strikes a chord with you, we would love to hear from you.

China Story by Reporter Li Renhu, Chen Lei, Jia Lijun, Ren Huibin, Hohhot Report

“Rare Earth Powers” Move to “Rare Earth Powers”

According to a survey conducted by the “Economic Information Daily” reporter, the rare earth resources accounted for 83.7% of the country and 38.7% of the world’s Baotou City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In recent years, the “digging and selling soil” method has been changed, and scientific research has achieved a series of breakthroughs. The conversion rate of technology and raw materials has been large. To enhance, the rare earth industry has entered the “eve of night” of explosive development.

In recent years, some breakthroughs have been made in the research and development of rare earth technology in China, but the level of systematic research and application still has a large gap with foreign countries. Experts suggest that we comprehensively count the resources of the family, strengthen the top-level design, set up state-level research institutions, systematically carry out rare earth foundation and applied research, get rid of the status quo of “card neck”, do fine and strong rare earth industry, and strive to become a rare earth power country.

Sheer Magnitude of Baotou Rare Earth Element Resource Is Stunning

The following information, drawn from a 2012 Caixin Online report provides insight to the massive resource in Baotou.

Baosteel Rare Earth Research Institute Director Ma Pengqi said the resource value of the tailings pool is equivalent to the Bayan Obo iron ore mine in Baotou, the world’s largest rare earths deposit with approved reserves of 36 million tons, 36% of the world’s total.  In a study conducted by the company, researchers found that the proportion of rare earths in the 180 million tons of slag was higher than the total estimated reserves of raw ore in Bayan Obo. The average grade of rare earths is much more concentrated at 7% in the tailings, compared to 5.5% in raw ore.  Ma has conducted research on the pool for decades and estimates that the total commercial value of the tailings pond is over 1 trillion yuan, with 500 billion from rare earths and over 600 billion in other mineral deposits.  Many scholars point out that the Baosteel tailings pool was the result of inefficient mining practices, and the by-product created will make further mineral extraction more difficult.When Baosteel was established in the 1950s, the steel mill and ore processing plant had to be put 100 kilometers away from the Bayan Obo mining site on the outskirts of Baotou near the Yellow River as the mining site lacked water resources. The mine dump was built near the steel mill. Official documents show that currently the Baosteel ore processor discharges between 7 million to 8 million tons of tailings into the pool each year. In addition, Baosteel’s rare earth subsidiary and smelter plant also discharges 2.1 million cubic meters of toxic wastewater into the pool each year.

R & D to achieve a series of breakthroughs

Recognized as “industrial vitamins”, 17 elements of rare earths are extremely rich in physical and chemical properties. Adding them to traditional materials will increase their performance in a geometrical range. It is a strategic element affecting the development of important future economic and national defense fields.

Since 2014, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Baotou City have conscientiously implemented the spirit of the internship of General Secretary Jin Ping in Inner Mongolia. He has issued a series of policies to accelerate the development of rare earth industry, set up industrial transformation and upgrading funds, set up an innovation platform, introduce talents, and promote the research and development of rare earth application technology. Conversion. Completed the Rare Earth Functional Materials Innovation Center of Inner Mongolia, the Baotou Rare Earth R&D Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Shanghai Jiaotong University Baotou Materials Research Institute, and more than 10 rare earth application research institutions, and established three academicians of comprehensive utilization of rare earth resources, rare earth permanent magnet materials, rare earth sulfides and rare earth light sources. Workstations, rare earth R & D personnel increased to more than 400 people, accounting for more than one third of the country.

Baotou Rare Earth High-tech Industrial Development Zone (referred to as “Baotou Rare Earth High-tech Zone”) Director of the Rare Earth Industry Bureau An Sihu introduced that in recent years, various research teams and enterprises have concentrated on tackling key problems and breaking through a number of key technologies:

The Baotou Rare Earth R&D Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed a rare earth steel preparation technology for submicron-sized inclusions, breaking through the technical bottleneck of large-scale industrial application of rare earth in steel; developing a domestically advanced high-purity rare earth metal preparation technology; Ultra-smooth bismuth-based polishing fluid can control the preparation technology and reach the international leading level; the development of rare earth sulfide coloring agent provides a new way for large-scale application of high-abundance light rare earth lanthanum and cerium in China.

Baotou City Baobao is a medical system Co., Ltd., which developed the world’s first AZ magnetic resonance diagnosis and treatment vehicle with independent intellectual property rights; Baotou City Tuoda New Energy Technology Co., Ltd. developed the world’s first “Halbach array disk” Type iron-free rare earth permanent magnet wind turbine technology.

The Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute won the first and second prizes of the China Rare Earth Science and Technology Awards for “High-stability Sintering NdFeB Radiation (Multi-pole) Magnetic Ring Industrialization Development”. .

“These technologies have filled the gaps in technology in related fields in China.” An Sihu said that there are currently 31 R&D platforms for rare earth enterprises in the region, and the Baiyun Ebo Rare Earth Resources Research and Comprehensive Utilization Laboratory has been rated as a national key laboratory.

Technology transformation from the wind

The reporter saw at the Baotou Rare Earth R&D Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences that the colorful “Jingdezhen” porcelain was shining, and the beautiful porcelain tires could be seen through the transparent glaze layer. “The rare earth is so amazing, what color to make it, what color it will be; slightly adjust the firing temperature, the color will be ever-changing.” Chi Jianyi, director of the Rare Earth R&D Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, the red rare earth sulfide color paste in the container Pour a bottle of mineral water into a drop without shaking. The color spreads out quickly. “It’s very uniform and stable. The bottle in the lab has not been deposited for more than a year.”

This is the first scientific research on the first 10 tons of rare earth sulfide colorants in the world, which was established in 2016, based on the key scientific issues of desulfurization and rare earth oxides under mild conditions. One of the products of the tunnel kiln pilot production line. This coloring agent is non-toxic and harmless, and it has not faded for a long time. The technology is in the world’s leading level. It has been listed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection in the “List of Substitutes for Toxic and Harmful Raw Material Products Encouraged by the State”, marking China’s high rare earth. The value-added downstream application area achieved a major breakthrough.

At present, the global demand for rare earth sulfide colorants is 200,000 tons, and the output value is about 60 billion yuan. However, due to the constraints of the preparation technology, the actual market supply is only about 200 tons. The production value of this production line is expected to exceed 10 billion yuan. Not only that, the research team has also successfully developed green environmental protection application products such as rare earth lipstick, rare earth ink, rare earth masterbatch, and is being promoted to industrialization.

The reporter saw that the production workshop of Yingtou Special Magnetic Diluted Materials Co., Ltd. of Baotou City was busy, and the workers were rushing to order the “magnetic components”. Chen Hongyu, the business manager of the company, said that the newly developed magnetic components have several times to several tens of times the adsorption capacity of single magnets, and they are very popular in the market.

In Baotou Jiangxin Micromotor Technology Co., Ltd., a production line is trial-producing VCM voice coil motor. The core technology of this product is to use rare earth NdFeB permanent magnet material to make smaller volume, better performance and higher added value. Clear micro motor, widely used in mobile phones, tablets and mobile payment card machine lenses.

Cao Hongzhang, deputy director of the Pilot Base of Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, said that their new product “heat stabilizer for PVC foaming sheet” is about to be mass-produced. The product solves the problem of lead in old products through rare earth lanthanum and lanthanum elements, and mechanics. Performance improvement of nearly 20%, mainly used in home improvement materials, advertising panels, new energy automotive interiors and other fields.

In the past few years, Baotou has implemented nearly 100 rare earth industry transformation and upgrading projects. In the fields of aerospace, magnetic refrigeration, permanent magnet motor, hydrogen storage battery, energy conservation and environmental protection, it has formed a number of rare earth application products with independent intellectual property rights; In the fields of new energy and robotics, 13 industrialized companies were formed, and 33 scientific and technological achievements were transformed, which made the local conversion rate of rare earth raw materials increased from 40% three years ago to 85% at present, and the proportion of rare earth functional materials was 3 years. The previous 20% increased to 51.2%.

Industry enters the “eve eve”

“The Baotou rare earth industry is in the eve of the explosive development.” Chi Jianyi said that the rare earth functional materials industry cluster is taking shape here.

Wang Xiulian, deputy mayor of Baotou City, introduced that the number of rare earth enterprises in the city has increased to 134, including 85 new materials and terminal enterprises, forming a complete industrial system of mining, smelting, research and development, deep processing and application. Last year, the city’s rare earth industry realized an output value of 13.8 billion. Yuan, a year-on-year increase of 37%, initially formed five industrial chains of rare earth permanent magnets, polishing, hydrogen storage, alloys and catalysis.

Not long ago, Baotou City issued the “Ten Policy on Supporting the Development of Rare Earth New Materials Industrial Parks” to encourage rare earth high-tech enterprises to enter the “Inner Mongolia Rare Earth New Materials Industrial Park” listed last year and accelerate the transformation of scientific and technological achievements. The planned area of ​​the core area of ​​the park is 80 square kilometers, and 36 key projects have been introduced with a total investment of 56 billion yuan. The park is focusing on the world’s first and domestic pioneering technologies in the field of rare earth applications, creating an important domestic coal chemical and polymer new material industrial base, the largest 400-series ferritic stainless steel industrial base in China, and the country’s largest high-purity rare earth metal. Processing and application industry base, the country’s important anode material industry base. Liu Yongming, director of the park, said that by 2020, the output value of the park will exceed 50 billion yuan. By 2025, the “four major bases” will be fully completed and will enter the ranks of the 100 billion-level parks.

Baotou Municipal Party Committee Secretary Zhang Yuanzhong and Mayor Zhao Jiangtao said that the local government is working hard to make the rare earth industry bigger and stronger, and promote the transformation of new and old kinetic energy, especially to develop high-strength and corrosion-resistant “rare earth steel”, relying on rare earth permanent magnet industry to create “China” “Magnetic Valley” has promoted the high-quality development of the old industrial base of this country.

“Rare earth bearing steel smelting technology has also made major breakthroughs.” Chi Jianyi said that China needs 4 million tons of bearing steel per year, and most of it relies on imports. Chinese scientists have discovered that foreign high-end steel contains rare earth elements. Academician Li Yiyi, Chinese Academy of Sciences It is applying for special projects and is ready to start research and development work at Baotou. Once successful, Baotou will become a base for special steel base materials, and it can also support the development of Baotou Steel.

Many experts believe that China’s current production technology of some rare earth functional materials has led the world, especially rare earth permanent magnet materials used in motor vehicles, high-speed rail, subway, trolley buses, large marine motors, small robots and other fields. The prospects are very optimistic.

Strategic elements must be highly valued

“Rare earth is the mother of new materials.” Li Wei, deputy chief engineer of the Iron and Steel Research Institute and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that rare earth elements have excellent physical and chemical properties such as light, electricity and magnetism, which can significantly improve the performance of traditional materials such as steel and aluminum. Used to produce new materials with different performances and varieties, it can be widely used in the development of high-tech industries such as military and electronic information, optics, nuclear industry, aerospace, new energy, high-end equipment manufacturing.

“The facial expression of a robot requires dozens of miniature rare earth permanent magnet servo motors to complete.” Academician Li Wei said that many fields are inseparable from rare earth functional materials. The reason why the US “Patriot missile” is the target It is clear that thanks to the application of rare earth functional materials on the radar; the “Raptor” fighters achieve supersonic cruise capability, and the engines used are heavily used in rare earth materials.

“Rare earth is a strategic element that affects future development.” Chi Jianyi, director of the Baotou Rare Earth R&D Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said that rare earth is an important support for the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and the development of emerging industries.

Experts believe that at present, China’s rare earth scientific research strength and industrial layout are scattered, and the overall scientific research level is about 20 years away from developed countries. It has insufficient support for China’s high-quality development and is not commensurate with the status of strategic elements. It needs to be further strengthened.

Research needs to have a bigger breakthrough

European and American countries began to study rare earths 200 years ago, and China’s related research has only been a few decades old.

Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, with more than 300 researchers, is the largest rare earth research institution in China. Dean Yang Zhanfeng said that the level of research on rare earths in China has improved significantly in recent years, but compared with foreign countries, the gap between basic and applied research is still large. In many respects, we only know why, I don’t know why.

“Although the number of papers is not lost to others, it can be covered by patents from Japan, the United States, and Europe.” Yang Zhanfeng said, “After the papers came out, the vines went down and the papers came out. Therefore, the application is poor and the technology is small.”

“From basic research, applied research to product development, a long process is required.” Chi Jianyi said, for example, their newly developed rare earth sulfide colorants have varying color variations at different firing temperatures. It can also be used as a material for military stealth. “However, we know the result, but we don’t know the mechanism. It takes at least five years to get the data and formula.” Scientists need to follow up and develop.

Academician Li Wei said: “The basic research is not enough, some core technologies are not present in China.” For example, China supplies 90% of the world’s rare earths, producing 70% of the world’s rare earth magnetic materials, but most of the patents are in Japan and the United States. In the hands, export products have to pay royalties to others.

Experts said that the theoretical calculation of the energy level of rare earth elements in the fourth-order electron layer has nearly 200,000 energy level transitions. At present, the human understanding of rare earths is very small, and the exploration space is huge. As a rare earth resource country, China needs to carry out a system for rare earths. Sexual basic research and applied technology research and development, and strive to make a major breakthrough in the new material “leading the nose”.

Need to solve three major problems

Last year, China’s rare earth industry achieved a main business income of 84 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 12.4%, a profit of 7.47 billion yuan, an increase of 38.3% year-on-year, initially reversed the export “quantity increase and price decline” situation.

Experts believe that as one of the key supporting materials for emerging industries, the contribution rate of the industry will grow geometrically in the future. The premise is to raise the rare earth industry to the national strategic level for top-level design and improvement. Right now, there are urgent needs to address the following three major issues.

— Strengthen basic and applied research and promote technological transformation.

The patents for rare earth application technology are mainly in the hands of American and Japanese companies, and some are also listed as banned export technologies. China’s rare earth industry has been tracking, imitating, or buying foreign patents, and more is “selling soil for a living.” Only by strengthening independent research and development can we get rid of the situation of being controlled by people.

According to experts’ analysis, since many of the research institutes have been reorganized and put into enterprises around 2000, because the enterprises pay attention to economic benefits, they have rarely invested in basic research and applied research. For example, the Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, which was originally part of the Ministry of Metallurgy, gradually became the “Sun” company of Baotou Steel Group. The administrative level changed from bureau level to department level. The research direction was determined by the enterprise according to the market, resulting in this once-famous rare earth. The research unit has been flat for many years. However, most of the theoretical achievements of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and universities are not closely related to the industry, which makes the research of rare earths in China appear inconsistent, broken, and even blank.

Experts believe that China’s existing research and development of rare earth science and technology innovations are fragmented and multi-repetitive, and scattered throughout the country, the research and development objectives are not clear enough, and the project settings are not accurate enough. There must be a strong national-level systematic rare earth research institute, and even an in-depth study of 17 elements of rare earths. Based on the Baotou Rare Earth Research Institute, it is recommended to integrate national scientific research forces, form a rare earth comprehensive research institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, research and develop new technologies, and accelerate the development of rare earth application industry.

——Strengthen the top-level planning and design, and promote breakthroughs in key areas and key areas.

Experts believe that China’s rare earth applications must go high-end, make the industry more sophisticated, high-efficiency resources, and continuously increase the added value, so that rare earths are “more rare.” Some countries have formulated a series of rare earth strategies and policies. China should also raise the rare earth industry to the national strategic level to carry out top-level design and promote high-quality development.

At present, the “Rare Earth Township” Baotou has established “Inner Mongolia Rare Earth New Material Industrial Park”. Experts believe that the park can be used as the core base of the national rare earth industry, with Guangdong, Fujian, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Shandong and other places as radiation bases, using local advanced equipment and thicker rare earth industry base to establish “national rare earths” in Baotou. The Center for Functional Materials Innovation will build a comprehensive platform for China’s rare earth science and technology innovation to solve the problem of not closely connecting science and technology with industry.

——Check resources and find out the bottom of the family.

“Rare Earth Capital” Baiyun Ebo Iron Mine in Baotou City, the rare earth content used so far is still the data of the 1950s. Since the mining, the extent of its metallogenic belt, how the veins go, and whether the content changes or not, No one can tell clearly because of the lack of basic research.

Experts suggest that the state should re-explore the rare earth resources of the Bayan Obo iron ore, obtain the latest scientific data and related materials, and extract the tens of millions of tons of rare earths contained in the Baotou tailings pond and dumping site. Comprehensive utilization.

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