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    Rare earth target materials industry sees promising prospect
    ----Interview with Manlai
    Executive Director
    Baotou ZhongKe Rare Earth Recycling Technology Co.
    Established in 2019, Baotou ZhongKe Rare Earth Recycling Technology Co.focuses on the green comprehensive recycling technology,electrolysis, R&D of process and industrialization of high purity rare earth metal and rare earth target materials. We produce all kinds of rare earth metals (including 99.9%min and 99.99%min high purity rare earth metals), middle and heavy rare earth alloy and rare earth target materials. The company owns an annual production capacity of 72t of middle and heavy rare earth metals as well as rare earth target materials at present.

    Asian Metal: Thanks for accepting Asian Metal’s interview, Mr. Man! Would you please give us a brief introduction of your company and your main business.

    Mr. Man: Established in 2009 led by Baotou Rare Earth Research and Development Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, our company is a mixed ownership and science & technology enterprise. Our company base in innovation industrial park of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Baotou Rare Earth High-tech Zone. Supported by R&D resources of Chinese Academy of Sciences, our company is specialized in the green comprehensive recycling technology, electrolysis, R&D of process and industrialization of high purity rare earth metal and rare earth target materials. We already gain seven patents of key production process of high purity rare earth metals, ISO certification of rare earth metal and recognition of small and medium-sized technology enterprises in Inner Mongolia. We produce all kinds of rare earth metals (including 99.9%min and 99.99%min high purity rare earth metals), middle and heavy rare earth alloy and rare earth target materials. We absorbed professional production team with more than 20 years’ experience by stock right transfer and other methods. Our clients spoke highly of our terbium metal, dysprosium metal, scandium metal and so on. We aim a sales value of more than RMB100 million in 2021.

    Asian Metal:May I know how many reduction furnaces your company own? How about the model? How many tons of heavy rare earth metal as well as rare earth target materials your company produced last year and so far this year?

    Mr. Man: We own two dehydration furnaces (500kg), five medium frequency reduction furnaces (three of 25kg,one of 50kg and another one of 200kg), two electric assembles furnaces. The output of one medium frequency reduction furnace of 25kg could reach 1-2t every month, which sales value reaches more than RMB10 million. We started official production in June 2020 and produced about 20t of middle and heavy rare earth metal and target materials last year. Our outputs of these products reached approximately 20t so far this year. We expect an output of around 45t this year. Our current production capacity already reaches 72t.

    Asian Metal: What do you see as the key step when producing middle and heavy rare earth metal by using reduction method? What advantage you own regarding this?

    Mr. Man: Fluorination acts as the most import step when producing middle and heavy rare earth metal by using reduction method. Our production team own more than 20 years’ experience and they are good good at controlling production conditions. 16 rare earth elements requires for different fluoridation temperature and time. Fluoride furnace materials also play an important role in production of high purity metals of 99.9% and 99.99%min. We reconstruct intermediate frequency furnace and carbon tube furnace and gain many patents, which support us to produce metals with good quality and cheap prices.

    Asian Metal: What’s your opinion about the development prospect of NdFeB magnet industry, which is the major downstream application of dysprosium metal and terbium metal?

    Mr. Man: I believe the development of new energy vehicle and other downstream industries would result in continuously demand increase in Chinese NdFeB magnet industry. Current China’s NdFeB magnet production capacity already records more than 300,000t and would reach 400,000t in the coming two years. Current China’s NdFeB magnet annual output reaches about 180,000t, which is supposed to increase to about 200,000t. The production of high performance NdFeB magnet requires dysprosium metal and terbium metal. NdFeB magnet producers changed their method of using dysprosium and terbium from alloyage to metallic cementation and fluoride penetrant method and finally chose target sputtering. Although the improvement of the process technologies reduced consumption volumes of dysprosium and terbium, the production of high performance NdFeB magnet still reply on dysprosium and terbium. Following with the development of technology, Chinese NdFeB magnet market witnesses more demand, which would result in rising demand for dysprosium and terbium.

    Asian Metal: Would you please introduce current major downstream markets of rare earth target materials?

    Mr. Man: Current major downstream markets of rare earth target materials are NdFeB magnet, special alloy, Engine, aerospace, wind power and so on. The surface treatment technology of magnetic materials by target sputtering is already mature. Our company cooperates with aircraft projects now. We conduct surface treatment on blades and engines of aircraft by target sputtering in order to improve aircraft’s high temperature resistance and other properties. This is a new field of rare earth target materials and owns great demand outlook and additional value.

    Asian Metal: Would you please share your opinion about Chinese target industry’s current situation?

    Mr. Man: Rare earth target industry is still in the preliminary stage of development with characteristics of variety diversity, small batch, long production cycle and so on. Chinese rare earth target material producers mainly produce low value-added products now and haven’t mastered the key technologies yet. Chinese rare earth target materials are applied in a few fields, such as NdFeB magnet. In the field of high temperature, corrosion resistance and other special alloys,including In the field of high temperature, corrosion resistance and other special alloys, the use of target materials for surface treatment is the main way to improve the performance of materials in the future. These fields include aerospace, military industry, high-end mechanical equipment and other industries, the usage of rare earth target materials for surface treatment is the main way to improve the performance of materials in the future. These industries own very bright future.

    Asian Metal:What’s your opinion about Chinese rare earth target material industry’s development prospect?

    Mr. Man: China’s rare earth target material sales value recorded about RMB23.8 billion in 2019. The value reached about RMB28.2 billion, with an increase of around 20% YoY, which was almost two times of the growth rate in foreign markets. I believe the Chinese rare earth target material industry would see rapid growth in the coming 5-10 years.

    Asian Metal:How about current situation of foreign rare earth target material market?

    Mr. Man: Sputtering coating technology originated abroad. A few companies in U.S. and Japan dominated the development and production of rare earth target material over the past years. These companies include Honeywell in U.S., Nippon Mining and Metals in Japan and Tosoh in Japan, and so on. These companies entered the market earlier and they mastered the most advanced technology. Global rare earth target material’s sale value was USD15.8 billion in 2019 and reached about USD17.5 billion in 2020. The value increased by approximately 10% every year over the past two years.

    Asian Metal:Thanks for sharing your opinions. Wish you every success in your business.

    Mr. Man: Thank you!
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