Analysis on the Market Space of China's Comprehensive Utilization of Mineral Resources in 2017

After 60 years of development of metallurgical industry, China has become a big country in steel and nonferrous metals in the world. However, the technological ideas have not changed significantly for decades. We have always adhered to the policy of refined materials and used high-quality raw materials and ores for smelting production. As a result, more than half of China's main iron ore raw materials need to be imported, and a large number of low-grade, difficult to mine and beneficiate composite concomitant ore resources stored in China are difficult to use directly.
① Low grade iron ore difficult to separate:
According to the Ministry of Land and Resources, since 2003, China has become the largest iron ore importer, and developing low-quality refractory ore dressing to meet the demand of steel production has become the only way for the development of China's steel industry. At present, the proven reserves of iron ore resources in China are 68 billion tons, of which more than 97% are low-grade, difficult to mine and beneficiate, and complex concomitant ores that are difficult to be directly used by the existing blast furnace process. Refractory hematite and high phosphorus oolitic hematite are typical representatives of refractory ore dressing. They have huge reserves and have not been used in large-scale industry. Blast furnace ironmaking is highly dependent on high-quality coking coal and high-quality iron ore. In 2015, the import rate of high-quality iron ore resources reached 84%, and it has no say in international iron ore pricing.
The 12th Five Year Plan for the Development of Iron and Steel Industry issued in 2011 also encourages the development of "technologies for the development of low-grade, refractory and co associated mineral resources and the comprehensive utilization of tailings"; The Guiding Opinions on Comprehensive Utilization of Resources in the "Twelfth Five Year Plan" issued in 2011 clearly stated that "we should strengthen the research and development of comprehensive utilization technologies for difficult to concentrate resources, such as low-grade iron ore, weakly magnetic iron ore, low-grade manganese ore, ludwigite, and stannite".





② Laterite nickel ore:
Nickel mainly comes from nickel sulfide ores and laterite nickel ores, of which laterite nickel ores account for 72.2% of the total. Previously, nickel sulfide ores accounted for a large proportion of nickel because of their high grade and few impurities and easy processing. However, with the intensification of mining, nickel sulfide ore resources gradually dried up, and laterite nickel ores will be used as the main raw materials for nickel smelting.
Since 2005, China has replaced Japan as the country with the largest nickel consumption in the world. China's primary nickel output (converted into nickel metal) increased from 76000 tons in 2005 to 710000 tons in 2014, and the world share increased from 6% to 36%. Among them, the output of electrolytic nickel increased from 76000 tons in 2005 to 278000 tons in 2014. The output of ferronickel (converted into nickel metal) was only 3000 tons in 2005, and more than 400000 tons in 2014.
However, China is also one of the countries with relatively low laterite nickel resources. At present, the reserve of laterite nickel ores in China only accounts for 9.6% of the total nickel resources. The reserves are small, the grade is relatively low, and the mining cost is high. China is also a major producer of stainless steel products. Ferronickel is the main raw material of stainless steel, while ferronickel mainly comes from laterite nickel ores. Every year, China needs to start from Indonesia Australia and the Philippines have imported a large number of laterite nickel ores to develop the stainless steel industry, while Indonesia has banned the export of nickel ores since 2014. At present, domestic nickel producers have started to look for other channels from the Philippines or set up factories in Indonesia.
Traditional pyrometallurgy can only deal with high-grade ores with a nickel grade of more than 1.8%, while for low-grade ores with a nickel grade of less than 1.8%, the existing technology is difficult to economically and efficiently achieve the enrichment, extraction and utilization of valuable metals, which greatly limits the development of nickel ore resources and the improvement of nickel output, while laterite nickel ore reserves with a nickel grade of 1.2%~1.8% are at least twice as large as those with a nickel grade of more than 1.8%.





③ Vanadium titanium ore: Vanadium and titanium are important strategic resources, while smelting vanadium titanium iron ore and vanadium titanium sea sand is a world problem. In August 2012, the National Development and Reform Commission released the Twelfth Five Year Plan for Comprehensive Utilization of Vanadium and Titanium Resources and Industrial Development, pointing out that "strengthening the comprehensive development and utilization of vanadium and titanium resources and promoting the sustainable development of vanadium and titanium industry are of great significance to China's industrial development and national defense construction."
④ Chromite: The output of stainless steel in China has grown rapidly, from 900000 tons in 2001 to 19 million tons in 2013. More than 90% of chromium is used to produce stainless steel, which is one of the essential elements of stainless steel. The content of chromium in stainless steel is not less than 10.5%. At present, chromium mainly comes from chromite. It is mentioned in the "Twelfth Five Year Plan" for the development of the iron and steel industry that "the key special steel varieties to focus on development: high-quality bearing steel, axle steel, wheel and spring steel for high-speed rail and other major equipment, heat-resistant steel for ultra supercritical thermal power units, and high-grade stainless steel".