Cement demand in China is expected to fall yearly while flat
glass and green materials consumption will grow by 2020, the
Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information (MIIT) said on
"With the continuous change of economic development, the
continuous upgrade of structural demand, the demand trend for
traditional building materials will remain steady or fall
slightly, especially demand for cement will decline," according
to the MIIT’s development plan for the industry of
Industrial minerals such as bauxite, limestone, calcium
carbonate and clay are used to produce cement, while soda ash
is a major component of glass.
Cement clinker demand will fall 2% year-on-year from 2015 to
1.2bn tonnes by 2020, while flat glass consumption is
expected to grow 1% y-o-y to 78m flat glass containers, which
is approximately 39m tonnes, the development plan cited.
Ceramic tiles used in the building industry could fall 1%
y-o-y to 9.5bn square metre in 2020, it added.
Under the plan, the Chinese government will eliminate the
severe overcapacity in the cement and flat glass industry, as
well as developing a more sustainable construction industry. As
part of the development plan, cement and flat glass production
capacity expansion is prohibited before 2020.
MIIT also released an update on the elimination of outdated
and excess capacity in China in October. Up to 13.78m tonnes of
iron, 17.06m tonnes of steel, 49.74m tonnes of cement, 714,500
tonnes of flat glass, 1,67m tonnes of paper, 2.6m standard
sheets of leather, 1.21m metres printing and dying industrial
capacities were eliminated in 2015.
Extended rail network to boost rare earths
China’s plans to extend its national high-speed
rail network and underground train system in main cities will
boost demand for rare earth components such as
neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) magnets used in locomotives.
According to the 2016 edition of the China Rail Network
Plan, during 2016-2020 the country will extend its high speed
rail network to 30,000km by 2020 and to 38,000km by 2025,
effectively doubling total mileage in the next decade.
It also plans to build 4,248km of additional underground
train lines throughout its main cities by 2020. After
lowering the population requirements for the infrastructure,
90 cities now qualify for underground systems, up from 30
Electric tram networks are also expected to increase from
174km in 2015 to 2,500km in 2020 nationwide.
The additional networks will require an increased number of
rail locomotives, which China aims to meet with vehicles that
adopt the new traction system of permanent magnet motor, which
uses NdFeB as a permanent magnet.
NdFeB helps energy saving, boosts efficiency of the traction
system, has a lower weight than other material and higher noise
NdFeB demand is expected to rise on the back of the
infrastructure plans, which would also affect rare earth
elements like neodymium and dysprosium.
|High speed trains in
China such as this one use NdFeB magnets. (Image Source:
Sharon Hahn Darlin, via Flickr)
Environmental policies may also affect demand for rare
At the Rare Earth Application and Environmental Technology
Conference held in Zibo on 28 September, Meng Feng, deputy
director of the rare earth source material department of the
China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, stated
that China is making stricter policy guidelines for rare earth
catalyst material development.
He stated that in the soon to be announced rare earth
development plan 2016-2020, a key topic will be the usage of
rare earths in environmental fields such as denitration in
waste gas in kilns and vehicle exhaust purification.
Applications including cerium-based catalysts and waste gas
volatile organic compound (VOC) combustion catalyst technology
are both listed as main directions of development.
Feng added that rare earth catalysts have become the
fastest-growing application in rare earth materials as they
are efficient, non-toxic and recyclable. In China, cerium
oxide as light rare earth is mainly produced in Inner
Mongolia but its price is lower than heavy rare earth
produced in the south of the country.