2013 June – Presentation of the Qinghai Salt Lake Magnesium Project at the 70th IMA Conference in Xi’an

The development of the Qinghai Salt Lake magnesium resource, among the most challenging projects ever undertaken in the magnesium industry, was one of the main topics at the annual conference of the International Magnesium Association (IMA) in Xi’an, China. Nicholas Andrews, Executive Chairman and CEO of Magontec Ltd., and Guo Li Yu, the Project Manager in charge at QSLM, explained the background to an international audience.

Their presentations underlined the technical and economic importance of the project, which is progressing at a great pace. Magontec CEO Andrews said, “From our experience, future champions in the magnesium industry will seek profitable partnerships on the basis of strong supply chains and reliable pricing disciplines. The Golmud project offers these essential attributes to Magontec’s customers around the World”. Following the conference, a group of magnesium industry and research experts toured the Golmud construction site to see for themselves the current status of the development.

Qinghai Salt Lake Magnesium Company Ltd confirms its exclusive cooperation with Magontec

This major project in the Chinese province of Qinghai, based on the vast Chaerhan Salt Lake, aims to extensively develop the local mineral resources, Guo Li Yu said. The project represents an investment of over US9.0 billion by the shareholders of the Qinghai Salt Lake Industries Company. Among the resources are sodium, potassium, magnesium and lithium. The current development plan will see the production of large quantities of magnesium chloride. This product will be separated into its constituent parts as feedstock for 9 different industrial processes including the 100,000mtpa (first stage) electrolytic magnesium smelter.

The Qinghai Salt Lake Magnesium Company Ltd (QSLM), a subsidiary of the Qinghai Salt Lake Industries Co. Ltd., is responsible for the production of pure magnesium at Golmud. While the technology is derived from the proven Norsk Hydro process used in Canada and Norway, the scale of this project is significantly larger than its predecessor plants generating opportunities for greater economics of scale.

Energy for the Qinghai project is principally sourced from hydroelectric and solar power stations. As a result of its clean energy and electrolytic process it is anticipated that this new magnesium production unit will generate considerably reduced CO2 emissions by comparison with current magnesium industry standards. Industry research shows that magnesium from Pidgeon Process plants (all Chinese plants are currently Pidgeon) generate on average 26.2 kg of CO2 per kg of magnesium. By comparison the electrolytic Qinghai magnesium smelter is expected to generate just 6.5 kg of CO2 per kg of magnesium produced. “The GHG/CO2 footprint of the new process is even more environmentally friendly than that of aluminium”, says Guo Li Yu.

Under a Cooperation Agreement between QSLM and Magontec, Magontec has an exclusive right to produce generic and specialist magnesium alloys from liquid pure magnesium produced in Golmud by QSLM. This agreement was signed by Mr Andrews and Mr Xie Kang Min, Vice President of Qinghai Salt Lake Industry (QSLI), the SZSE-listed parent company of QSML, in June 2012. On commencement QSLM will directly supply Magontec with 56,000 mt per annum of liquid pure magnesium. The size of the Qinghai project and the volume of new production of clean and high quality product is expected to promote further development of magnesium applications, say the management of QSLM and Magontec.

For Magontec’s worldwide customers in the automotive and die-casting industries, the Qinghai project offers a major new magnesium material supply source via Magontec, a reliable and long-term industry participant. Magontec expects to be able to offer high volume supply of generic and specialist magnesium alloys through longer-term supply contracts than have traditionally been available. This new supply source offers welcome support for the automotive industry as it seeks to comply with stringent new CO2 emission regulations, said Mr Andrews.

Delegation explores the situation on site in Golmud

Magontec’s new magnesium alloy cast house is being built adjacent to the QSLM pure magnesium production plant. In May, following the IMA Conference in Xian, PRC, a delegation of leading international experts from the automotive and die casting industry went on site to see for themselves the advanced stage of development at Golmud.

Guided by the management of Magontec, QSLI and QSLM, the guests included the IMA-President Prof. Karl Kainer, Dr. N. Holt (Group Leader HZG), Dr. C. Haberling (Audi), Dr. Jianfeng (GM China), A. Dampmann (Georg Fischer), D. Hu (Georg Fischer) and T. Tamura (Morimura, Japan).

The events of the 70th IMA Annual World Magnesium Conference in Xi’an, 19 – 21 May 2013, brought a total of 350 experts from the magnesium industry to China.

Photo: A delegation of international magnesium experts view the fast progress being made at the project in Golmud, following the 2013 IMA conference in Xi’an. © Magontec

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