Sichuan looks to strengthen rare earths, TiO2

By Albert Li
Published: Friday, 07 July 2017

Authorities in the Chinese province are aiming to expand R&D and innovation in TiO2 and rare earths, targeting electronics and automotive.

China’s Sichuan province is targeting the expansion of its titanium dioxide (TiO2) industry and of rare earths and their downstream sectors as part of the 2017 Economic Development Target for the province’s Panxi economic zone, local authorities announced on 6 June.

Panxi owns the biggest titanium feedstock base in China, represented by Pangang Group Vanadium Titanium & Resources Co.

Although this company’s stock listing was suspended, a number of measures have been announced with a view to resume listing. These include expanding TiO2 through mergers and acquisitions or cooperation, and promoting high-quality TiO2 R&D.

The plan includes also supporting new and high-tech industries, especially rare earth and its downstream segments – given that Sichuan has the second-largest light rare earth resource in China, after Baotou in Inner Mongolia.

Chengdu Galaxy Magnet Company is due to benefit from this government announcement as its two capacity expansion projects have now been granted approval, adding 600tpa for NdFeB magnet for hard drive applications, and 200 tpa for automotive NdFeB.

Sichuan Wankaifeng Rare Earth New Energy Technology Company has a rare earth hydrogen storage battery project, listed as one of the 56 key provincial projects. 

The company has a proven reserve of 1.37m tonnes and prospective reserve of 3m tonnes.

In Panxi, rare earth material has fine particles and is thus difficult to process, but an improved technique was recently developed by China Geology Academy and supported by Sichuan provincial government. 

This processing method can increase rare earth recovery rate from 20% to 55% in normal temperature.

This article was first published online on 12 June.