China is rapidly expanding Baotou Rare Earth High and New Tech Industrial Development Zone in Inner Mongolia, as the country maintains its grip on the majority of the world’s rare earths trade.
Phase one of a 5,000-ton magnetic powder production line has been opened by Kerui Micro-Magnetic New Materials near the city of Baotou, which sits on the edge of the Gobi Desert.
Numerous other projects are underway but China Nonferrous Metals News had few details about this highly sensitive field.
This project is one among 80 major projects planned for construction with a total investment of 59.42 billion yuan (US$8.75 billion).
The boss of the Baotou Rare Earth High and New Technology Industrial Development zone, Lu Hongguo, announced that a 20-acre site will produce 10 brands of bonded magnetic powder and six brands of hot-pressed magnetic powder, as well as two series of PPS and PA12 injection moulded NdFeB particles and injection moulded magnets.
Lu said: “As electronic products become more and more miniaturized, the requirements for product performance are getting higher and higher. We aim to meet domestic market demand and accelerate the construction of the first phase of the project.”
He said the Baotou complex was an element of Chinese “soft power” in the Sino-US trade war.
This year China sanctioned Lockheed Martin after it sold arms to Taiwan.
The US government has instructed its Defense Department to seek out other sources of rare earth materials, which are vital to modern military hardware.
There are rare earth deposits in other countries such as Russia, Malaysia and Australia, but development of some sites can be tricky because the process for extracting these elements can be highly toxic for areas adjacent to mines and processing facilities.
• By Chris Gill
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