High-purity quartz is closely related to eight of the nine fields of new-generation information technology and new material industry in strategic emerging industries, and is an important supporting material in strategic emerging industries. However, due to the particularity of raw materials and technical confidentiality, the production and export of high-purity quartz and its raw materials are highly concentrated in a few countries and enterprises in the world. Among them, high-end processing and purification technologies and products are mainly mastered by developed countries such as the United States. my country’s high-end high-purity quartz mainly relies on imports.
1. How important is high-purity quartz?
(1) Application fields of high-purity quartz and its status in the national economy
Industries and fields such as semiconductors, optical communications, photovoltaics, optics, and electric light sources are important areas that support the development of strategic emerging industries. They are important guarantees for building major projects, improving people’s livelihood, and consolidating national defense and military industries. They occupy an important position in the construction of the national economy. , High-purity quartz is widely used in these industries and fields, and is a rare and common high-value-added mineral resource required by these fields.
In the field of semiconductor wafer process technology and etching, solar cell process diffusion, PE process, special lighting materials such as ultra-high pressure projection lamps, capillary lamps and cinema lamps in electric light sources, aerospace fields, etc., all need to use high Quartz glass crucibles, ingots, tubes, bars, plates, various utensils and devices, as well as quartz glass fibers and fabrics produced from pure quartz as raw materials.
According to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) data, the size of China’s semiconductor market in 2019 was US$154.7 billion, accounting for 36.98% of the global semiconductor market. From 2015 to 2019, the average growth rate of the global semiconductor market scale is close to 6%. According to this, the scale of China’s semiconductor market will be nearly 220 billion US dollars by 2025. If calculated on the basis of the consumption of high-purity quartz materials worth US$500,000 for every US$100 million of semiconductor sales, the market size of high-purity quartz materials for semiconductors in China in 2019 will be US$770 million, and the domestic market space will be nearly 11 million by 2025. One hundred million U.S. dollars.
In addition, monocrystalline silicon is the main raw material for the production of large-scale integrated circuits and solar cells, and each production of monocrystalline silicon consumes a quartz crucible. Driven by the rapid growth of the solar cell and integrated circuit industries, high-purity quartz The raw material market for single crystal silicon quartz crucibles is also expanding.
In addition to the new generation of information technology industries to which semiconductors belong, strategic emerging industries such as new energy, new electric light sources, and new materials will also consume a large amount of high-purity quartz in the development process in the next five years. In the future, the demand for high-purity quartz and its raw materials is expected to increase year by year with an increase of more than 6%, and its status in the national economy is also becoming more and more important.
(2) Alternatives to other high-purity quartz materials
Quartz crucibles made of high-purity quartz are an indispensable and important supporting material for the photovoltaic industry and semiconductors, and currently cannot be replaced by other materials. In addition, the quality of high-purity quartz products is controlled by the quality of high-purity quartz raw material resources. Large-scale and stable quality high-purity quartz raw material deposits have not yet been found in my country. The quality of quartz raw material mineral resources supplied to high-purity quartz production enterprises is uneven, resulting in unstable quality of the high-purity quartz products produced, and the produced quartz crucibles softened. Low point and short service life. Domestic high-purity quartz and raw materials still cannot replace the IOTA series of high-purity quartz and raw materials produced by Sibelco Corporation of the United States.
2. Where is the supply risk of high-purity quartz?
(1) Analysis of external dependence of high-purity quartz
According to the statistics of the United Nations Commodity Trade Database and the General Administration of Customs of China, from 2015 to 2019, the average unit price of imported high-purity quartz (≥4N) in my country was US$14,700/t. According to conservative estimates of the market size of high-purity quartz materials for semiconductors in China, China’s semiconductor industry will need to consume nearly 80,000 tons of high-purity quartz (≥4N) by 2025.
In addition, data shows that semiconductors account for about 65% of the entire downstream quartz glass market. Based on this, it is estimated that the entire domestic quartz glass market will need to consume nearly 120,000 tons of high-purity quartz by 2025.
Jiangsu Pacific Quartz Co., Ltd. is a leading domestic high-purity quartz company, the only company that has passed TELL certification and has the technology to produce high-purity quartz. Currently, the production capacity of high-purity quartz is about 60,000 t/year, and a production line of 20,000 t/year is under construction. It needs to be put into production in March 2021, and the high-purity quartz it produces can only meet the requirements of the electric light source and photovoltaic industry. Under the situation of oligopolistic development of high-purity quartz and its raw materials, even if the company’s two high-purity quartz production lines are fully operational, its 26,000 t/year high-purity quartz production capacity is higher than 120,000 t of quartz glass market demand. Pure quartz still has a large gap.
In addition, the quartz crucible has high requirements on the purity, specification accuracy and quality stability of high-purity quartz, and the products produced from domestic high-purity quartz raw materials cannot meet the requirements. The high-purity quartz (4N8) used for the inner coating of the quartz crucible is only Can be imported from the United States and other countries. In general, high-purity quartz is highly dependent on foreign countries.
(2) Analysis of foreign production concentration of high-purity quartz
At present, there are only a few companies that can supply high-purity quartz in the world, such as Sibelco Corporation of the United States, TQC Corporation of Norway, ANZAPLAN Corporation of Germany, Russia Quartz Corporation and China Jiangsu Pacific Quartz Co., Ltd.
Among them, the high-purity quartz raw materials used by American Sibelco Company and Norway’s TQC Company are mainly produced in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, USA, and the high-purity quartz raw materials used by Russian Quartz Company are mainly produced in the No. The high-purity quartz raw materials of Quartz Co., Ltd. mainly come from Donghai, Jiangsu. The United States is the main producer and exporter of high-purity quartz, and the world’s high-purity quartz products of 4N8 and above are almost monopolized by Sibelco.
From this point of view, the proportion of high-purity quartz and its raw materials produced in my country is extremely low, and high-purity quartz and its raw materials are mainly concentrated in the United States, Norway, Germany and the Russian Federation.
(3) Security analysis of high-purity quartz trade channel
According to the analysis of import data from the General Administration of Customs of China from January 2017 to June 2020, my country currently mainly imports high-purity quartz from the United States, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Norway, the Russian Federation and Taiwan, China. The economic and political competition and cooperation relationship directly affects the major institutional arrangements of the two sides in various fields, and the security of trade has become increasingly incomprehensible. Since 2018, my country’s import volume of high-purity quartz (≥4N) from the United States has been decreasing year by year. In the first half of 2020, the high-purity quartz (≥4N) directly exported from the United States to China was only 5.62t.
In addition to the United States, there are also uncertainties in the trade channel security of my country’s high-purity quartz and its raw materials in countries such as the Russian Federation and Norway. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a presidential decree requesting that the mining and usage of strategic minerals such as high-purity quartz raw materials will not be disclosed, which will inevitably affect the export policy of high-purity quartz raw materials. Its raw material resources will also be more difficult. Most of the high-purity quartz and its raw materials produced by Norway’s TQC company come from the Spruce Pine region of the United States. Judging from the current US sanctions against Huawei and SMIC, my country wants to import high-purity quartz and its raw materials from Norway in the future. Raw materials will be at risk.
To sum up, with the continuous changes in the international political situation, the trade channel of high-purity quartz and its raw materials in China will face huge insecurity in the future, and it will become more and more difficult to obtain overseas high-purity quartz resources.
(4) Potential analysis of domestic high-purity quartz resources
Through the comparative analysis of the geological conditions of the high-purity quartz raw material deposits of Sibelco Corporation, TQC Corporation of Norway and Quartz Corporation of Russia, it is found that their metallogenic geological backgrounds have some common features: they are all produced in orogenic belts, and The geological environment in which most high-purity quartz raw material deposits are located is metamorphic. For example, the main high-purity quartz raw material deposits of Sibelco and TQC are produced in the alleghanian greenschist, and the Kyshtym 175 vein of Russian Quartz is also produced in the metamorphic rocks of the Ural Mountains.
Judging from the geological survey of high-purity quartz raw materials that has been carried out in my country, my country also has a similar metallogenic geological environment. The Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt is the most potential orogenic belt. Some potential high-purity quartz raw materials have been found in the area. The quartz raw material resources used by Pacific Quartz Company are located in the East China Sea area of Jiangsu in the Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt.
According to the speculation of Zhang Peicong and other scholars, high-purity quartz raw material resources generally account for about 10% of the mineral resources such as crystal and vein quartz that have been explored, while the identified resources of crystal in my country are about 6877t, and the identified resources of vein quartz for glass are about 10%. 92.04 million tons. Based on this inference, the current potential of high-purity quartz resources in my country is about 9.2 million t. From this point of view, my country’s high-purity quartz raw material ore has great resource potential.
Since the 1990s, many scientific research institutions and production enterprises in my country have invested a lot of research work in high-purity quartz processing, purification and testing technology. At present, my country has achieved certain results in these two aspects. However, due to the disconnection between scientific research and production application, and the lack of intermediate experimental research between basic research and industrialization, most of these technological achievements only stay in the laboratory stage.
In addition to processing, purification and testing technology, the same problem exists in the evaluation of high-purity quartz raw materials in my country. Due to the lack of intermediate experimental research on the found quartz resources, so far, it has not been unified on what type of vein quartz is a high-purity quartz raw material. There is no unified evaluation method, and it is still impossible to systematically evaluate the part of the known vein quartz mineral resources that can be used as high-purity quartz raw materials. As a result, a large number of high-quality vein quartz resources are mostly used to manufacture products with low added value. So far, there is no mining area for high-purity quartz raw materials.
To sum up, although my country’s high-purity quartz raw material ore has great resource potential, due to the lack of corresponding raw material evaluation standards, the potential high-purity quartz raw material resources cannot be developed and utilized.
3. What is the strategic significance of high-purity quartz raw materials?
From the previous analysis, it can be seen that the supply risk of high-purity quartz and its raw materials is relatively high. On the one hand, its resources are mainly concentrated in foreign production, and the proportion of domestic production is relatively low. With the continuous advancement of Made in China 2025, the contradiction between supply and demand of high-purity quartz and its raw materials will also become more prominent; on the other hand, due to the political situation. Its trade channel has great insecurity, and the supply of high-purity quartz and its raw materials will face huge risks in the future.
From the perspective of economic value, this type of resources plays an important role in the development of my country’s strategic emerging industries. Although the proportion is not high, if the supply of such resources is restricted, it will directly affect the efficient and orderly development of strategic emerging industries.