Application Market and Opportunities and Challenges of High-performance Nd-Fe-B Permanent Magnetic Materials Industry
According to the national standard, NdFeB permanent magnetic materials with the sum of intrinsic coercivity and maximum magnetic energy product value greater than or equal to 65 belong to high-performance NdFeB permanent magnetic materials.
1. Supply status
(1) Supply of NdFeB permanent magnet raw materials
The main raw materials of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials are rare earth metals such as praseodymium, neodymium, dysprosium and terbium. China is a major country in rare earth resources, with the largest rare earth reserves and output in the world. According to the data of the United States Geological Survey, China’s rare earth mineral reserves in 2021 will be 44 million tons, accounting for 36.67% of the global resources, ranking first in the world; In 2021, the total output of rare earth in the world will be 280000 tons, and that of China will be 168000 tons, accounting for 60%, ranking first. The abundant rare earth resources and output provide sufficient raw material supply for the NdFeB permanent magnet industry in China.
(2) Output of Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic material
At present, China has become the world’s largest producer of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials, and its output has maintained a rapid growth. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the output of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials in China increased by 39.94% in the five years from 2017 to 2021.
According to the statistics of China Rare Earth Industry Association and Shanghai Non-ferrous Metal Network, China’s output of Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials will be 219400 tons in 2021, China’s export of Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials will be 48800 tons in 2021, and the global demand for Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials will be about 61000 tons in 2021. The supply of Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials in China will account for 80% of the foreign demand for Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials. The domestic demand for high-end NdFeB magnets accounts for 56.60% of the total demand for NdFeB magnets. There is still room for improvement in the production and market share of domestic high-performance NdFeB, which will also provide opportunities for the growth of domestic excellent magnetic material enterprises in the long run.
(3) Import and export of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials
China has the world’s most complete rare earth permanent magnet industry chain and has become the world’s largest export base of rare earth permanent magnet materials. Since 2011, the net export of NdFeB permanent magnets in China has maintained an overall growth trend. The net export volume has increased from 24700 tons in 2011 to 48800 tons in 2021, with an increase of 97.57%. However, the growth rate of net export has slowed down, mainly because China’s magnetic materials have been exported in the form of motor and other end products in recent years, while the number of low-end products exports has decreased and the number of high-end finished products exports has increased. The demand for rare earth permanent magnet materials in China is increasing in major countries around the world. With the rapid development of low-carbon and energy-saving manufacturing industries represented by new energy vehicles and wind power generation, the global demand for high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet materials is expected to usher in a period of rapid development.
(4) Price of NdFeB permanent magnetic material
The upstream of the industry chain is the rare earth industry, which is mainly responsible for the mining, smelting and separation of rare earth, and provides rare earth metals, rare earth alloys and other raw materials for the midstream rare earth functional materials industry. Since rare earth raw materials account for a relatively high proportion of the cost of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials, the fluctuation of rare earth prices has a vital impact on the healthy development of the entire rare earth magnetic material industry chain. In order to stabilize the price of upstream raw materials and maintain the stability of the overall industrial chain, China implements the control of rare earth smelting and separation output and the limit of the number of enterprises, and issues the total production plan of rare earth smelting and separation products and the total production control plan of rare earth mining and production each year. In December 2021, after the establishment of China Rare Earth Group, the total control index of rare earth mining and production was changed from six rare earth enterprise groups to four rare earth enterprise groups, and the supply concentration was further improved.
2. Industry competition pattern
(1) International market competition
At the beginning of the mass production of NdFeB permanent magnet materials, the global production capacity was mainly distributed in Japan, the United States and Europe and other countries and regions. After the 21st century, with the development of neodymium iron boron industry, China is rich in rare earth resources, and the technical level is constantly breaking through. Global customers have gradually increased their efforts to purchase neodymium iron boron permanent magnet materials from China. At present, China has become the world’s largest producer of Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic materials. According to the statistics of Shanghai Nonferrous Network, China’s supply of Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials will account for more than 80% of the total supply of Nd-Fe-B magnetic materials overseas in 2021. The production enterprises of sintered NdFeB in developed countries mainly include Hitachi Metal, TDK, Shinyue Chemical and German VAC. From the current global competition pattern of rare earth permanent magnetic material industry, China’s rare earth permanent magnetic material industry has developed rapidly and has strong competitiveness.
(2) Domestic market competition
There are many enterprises producing Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic materials in China, but the enterprises producing high-performance Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic materials are relatively concentrated. Due to the high patent barrier, technology and talent barrier and capital barrier of the high-performance neodymium iron boron industry, the competition pattern of the domestic neodymium iron boron industry in China is clearly differentiated. Most of the enterprises are small in scale and low in technical level. The products are mainly of medium and low performance, and the production process is relatively simple. They are mainly used in the low-end fields, and the competition is relatively fierce; A small number of enterprises have large scale and strong financial strength. Through R&D investment and process improvement, they have high performance NdFeB production capacity.
High-performance Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic material production enterprises mainly include Zhongke Sanhuan, Antai Technology, Ningbo Yunsheng, Beijing Magnetic Material, Zhenghai Magnetic Material, Jinli Permanent Magnet, Yingluohua, Earth Bear, etc. The above enterprises generally focus on specific application fields, focus on key customers in this field, focus on R&D, design and manufacturing capabilities to provide customers with high-quality products and services, form long-term cooperative relationships with customers, and form strong competitive advantages in market segments.
3. Downstream application
High-performance NdFeB permanent magnet materials are mainly used in high-tech products, such as motors, compressors, sensors, and specific application fields include: consumer electronics, traditional vehicles and other traditional fields, as well as new energy vehicles, wind power generation, energy conservation and environmental protection and other emerging fields.
The downstream industry of NdFeB permanent magnetic material has a good development prospect. On the one hand, the penetration rate of national life in traditional application fields is relatively high, especially the application of mobile phones, computers and other electronic products is widespread, and the development is stable; On the other hand, new energy vehicles, wind power generation and other emerging application fields are the key development targets of the country, which conforms to the national strategic development plan of energy conservation, emission reduction and green environmental protection. In the industrial policies issued by the state, we actively encourage and guide the use of new materials and new technologies in the fields of new energy vehicles, wind power generation, air conditioning, industrial motors, etc., and neodymium iron boron as a new material is also listed as the object of encouragement and key development by the state. Influenced and driven by a variety of factors, the application fields of downstream industries have been continuously expanded, and the requirements for Nd-Fe-B permanent magnetic materials have become higher and higher, which has led the Nd-Fe-B industry to develop in the direction of refinement, personalization and customization.
(1) Automobile industry
1) Traditional automobile field
In the automobile manufacturing process, high performance NdFeB permanent magnet materials are widely used in the important parts of automobile micro and special motors, such as electric power steering system (EPS), anti-lock braking system (ABS), audio system, automobile oil pump and ignition coil, which have high requirements for motor performance.
2) New energy vehicles
There are four types of motors in the field of new energy vehicles: DC motors, induction motors (asynchronous motors), switched reluctance motors and permanent magnet motors. At present, most of the driving motors of new energy vehicles in China use permanent magnet motors, and the penetration rate is increasing year by year. As the power source of new energy vehicles, permanent magnet motor has the characteristics of high energy density, reliable operation and good speed regulation performance. Compared with other types of motors, it can provide greater power output under the same mass and volume, and is an ideal motor type for new energy vehicles.
In 2021, the global automobile production will increase by 3.10% year on year. From January to November 2021, the production and sales of domestic automobiles were 23172000 and 23489000, up 3.5% and 4.5% year on year. From 2011 to 2020, the sales of new energy vehicles in China increased from 8200 to 1367300 in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 76.67%. The development of global and domestic automobiles and new energy vehicles will drive the market demand of NdFeB permanent magnetic materials.
(2) Energy-saving appliances
With the continuous improvement of the national energy efficiency rating standards and the popularity of the concept of low-carbon life, the green and energy-saving frequency conversion household appliances have gradually become the consumption trend of the household appliance market. Variable frequency household appliances mainly include variable frequency air conditioners, variable frequency refrigerators, variable frequency washing machines and other household appliances. Compared with traditional fixed-frequency household appliances, variable-frequency household appliances have the advantages of low noise, energy saving and long service life. High-performance Nd-Fe-B permanent magnet materials have gradually replaced ferrite permanent magnet materials and become the first choice of permanent magnet motor magnets for frequency conversion appliances due to their better performance.
China’s frequency conversion appliances are in the promotion and application stage. As the raw material for the production of core components of frequency conversion appliances, the market demand for NdFeB permanent magnet materials is expected to grow steadily.
(3) Wind power generation
In the field of new energy, energy conservation and environmental protection, wind power generation is one of the main application fields of high-performance NdFeB permanent magnet materials in China.
The wind turbines mainly used in the field of wind power generation are doubly-fed wind turbines, semi-direct-driven generators and direct-driven generators. Most direct-driven wind turbines are permanent-magnet synchronous generators, which have the advantages of low maintenance cost and high system efficiency, and have the trend of gradually replacing the doubly-fed wind turbines. In the future, the market share of direct-drive permanent magnet motors will increase as the units become larger, especially with the rapid increase in the proportion of offshore wind power installed.
According to the statistics of the Global Wind Energy Council, from the perspective of the global market, the cumulative installed capacity of global wind power has maintained a steady growth in the past 10 years, from 283GW in 2012 to 837GW in 2021, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.80%. From the domestic market, the cumulative installed capacity of domestic wind power has increased from 63GW in 2012 to 338GW in 2020, with a CAGR of 20.52%. At the same time, the rapid growth of wind power installed capacity has made China the largest power generation country in the world. In 2021, China’s installed capacity accounted for 40.38% of the world. The rapid growth of installed capacity of wind power generation equipment worldwide and domestically will drive the market demand for NdFeB permanent magnet materials.
(4) Consumer electronics
Due to its high magnetic energy product, high coercivity and other advantages, neodymium iron boron permanent magnetic materials are in line with the development trend of miniaturization, lightweight and thinness of consumer electronics, and are widely used in acoustic systems such as mobile phone speakers and receivers, as well as many consumer electronics components such as camera voice coil motors (VCM), high-end mobile phone vibration motors, TWS headsets, etc. In recent years, consumer electronics products represented by smart phones and wearable devices have developed rapidly and become the main growth point of the consumer electronics industry.
In recent years, the shipments of high-end products from global mobile phone manufacturers have been increasing, the demand for high-level components and modules has also been increasing, and the penetration of dual speakers in smart phones has gradually increased.
(5) Industrial motor
High-efficiency and energy-saving motor refers to the motor with high efficiency (above Class II standard of the new motor energy efficiency standard) of the general standard motor. In May 2020, China announced the latest motor energy efficiency standard, “Motor Energy Efficiency Limits and Energy Efficiency Grades” (GB18613-2020), which was officially implemented on June 1, 2021. Energy-efficient motors below IE3 (international standard) will be discontinued.
Permanent magnet motors are characterized by simple structure, small size, high reliability, low loss and high efficiency. They are widely used in industrial and agricultural production, aerospace, automotive, household appliances, medical equipment, electronic products and other fields. Rare earth permanent magnet motors are high-end products of permanent magnet motors, which can significantly reduce power consumption, higher unit power and achieve accurate control, and are the main choice of high-end motors. With the increasing application types of industrial motors, the market demand for high-performance NdFeB magnetic materials will continue to grow.