|Shenyang, Liaoning Province, was an important
industrial centre in the 1990s. Now,
the province is seeking to reduce its exposure to steel
markets as construction wanes.
Liaoning Yatai New Building Material Technologies
Liaoning province-based Yatai New Building Material
Technologies Co. has developed a heat insulation material for
walls made from low-grade magnesite.
Pingsheng Bai, Yatai New Building’s chief
engineer, told IM that the insulation his company produces
meets modern construction industry standards for energy saving
in new buildings and can last for up to 50 years.
Whereas high-grade magnesite is used to make refractories,
low-grade material produced at the same time is usually
discarded on slag heaps.
Yatai New Building currently only supplies the local
Liaoning construction industry. Many of the
province’s largest magnesia companies also have
significant real estate investments and construction activity
is supported by the Chinese government as a way of delivering
GDP growth, meaning there is a ready market for wall
However, real estate is difficult to sell in Liaoning at
present, so this demand could peter out in the near future.
If this happens, Bai said that Yatai New Building will look
at supplying builders in other parts of China, or possibly in
Yingkou Magnesite Chemical Ind Group
Another company in the region, Yingkou Magnesite Chemical
Ind Group, has since its establishment in 1999, become the
largest manufacturer of magnesite chemicals in China.
It is also the biggest producer and exporter of magnesium
sulphate fertiliser and animal feed products.
According to Yunhong Yang, Yingkou Magnesite
Chemical’s vice president, the company is fully
integrated, with its own magnesite mines, with a capacity of
400,000 tpa, calciners and fertiliser and magnesium chemical
plants capable of producing 500,000 tpa magnesium sulphate
The company’s domestic and export sales are
split 50:50 and it has sold to customers in 50 countries.
"We don’t sell magnesite or CCM, we focus only
on further processed products," Yang told IM.
He explained that Yingkou Magnesite Chemical prefers export
markets because of the better payment terms. Selling
processed products allows it to make higher margins, although
these have been squeezed recently by higher truck freight
rates. "Luckily we are only 60km away from Yingkou Bayuquan
Port, the second biggest port in north China," he adds.
Liaoning Fenghua Industries Co.
Robert Xie, director of marketing at Liaoning Fenghua
Industries Co., told IM that while his company maintains its
traditional business in making magnesia and refractory
products, it is also working on new manufacturing technology
that reduces emissions from magnesia production.
Historically, China’s magnesia industry was one
of the most polluting sectors in China, since DBM, FM and CCM
production generate large amounts of dust and waste water and
The industry is gradually getting cleaner, however, and
companies like Fenghua Industries spotted an opportunity to
capitalise on government policies to reduce
It has recently invested in developing clean DBM production
technology along with a new process to produce activated CCM
using the flash calcination method.
Its clean DBM technology relies on a new type of kiln, which
is a large, fully sealed, vertical model capable of producing
240 tpd DBM. It burns 248kg of coal per tonne of DBM produced,
a reduction of 20% on conventional DBM kilns, and 99% of its
solid waste is recyclable, according to Xie.
Because the kilns are sealed, smoke and dust is almost
entirely contained within the plant. The density of dust
emitted from Fenghua Industries’ kilns is less
than 50mg/m3, while sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide
discharge densities are both less than 200mg/m3.
Fenghua Industries’ other new project to
produce activated CCM via flash calcination, where fine
magnesite particles are fed through a vertical kiln at high
temperatures, yields three times more activated CCM than a
traditional calcination kiln, according to the company.
Coal consumption per tonne of CCM produced is 150kg, a 35%
saving on typical fuel usage, and emissions are also reduced.
Magnesia can also be used in the desulphurisation of flue
gases as an alternative to calcium oxide.
Xie said that Fenghua Industries has trialled its magnesia
products for this purpose, with more efficient results meaning
lower energy costs, however magnesia is more expensive than
Lessons from Liaoning
The innovative success of Liaoning’s magnesia
producers has attracted the attention of governments in other
parts of China.
The government of Shanshan in the autonomous region of
Xinjiang in northwest of China recently announced that a 200m
tonne magnesite resource had been discovered in the area.
Government officials recently travelled to Liaoning to learn
from the local producers and potentially secure investment to
develop a local magnesia industry.
However, the government of Liaoning is concerned about
rising domestic competition and has pointed out that the remote
area of Shanshan would face prohibitive logistics costs to ship
magnesia products to the main industrial markets in eastern and
It recommended that the Shanshan officials should look for
customers and investment from China’s Central
Asian neighbours, including Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia,
for its future magnesia supply.