The visit began with a presentation at the 7th China Aviation Industry Summit, where I had the opportunity to demonstrate the important role of MMTA members to the aerospace sector in front of representatives of all the main aircraft manufacturers. After outlining the importance of minor metals, the main topic was how rising demand for minor metals will be met in the future.
All the main aircraft manufacturers were in positive mood, anticipating increased demand in large aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, as well as the smaller, single aisle aircraft, which both Bombardier and Embraer have earmarked as key growth areas within the Chinese market for servicing second tier cities.
All speakers stressed the importance of the global supply chain they rely on and this tied in with the MMTA’s message of the importance of the role of MMTA members within those supply chains.
Taking the superfast train to Nanjing the following day was a stark reminder that we have a lot of work to do on our rail network in the UK!
After being welcomed to visit the factory of longstanding MMTA member, Metalink, I was treated to a fascinating tour of the old town and its sites of historical importance.
An internal flight later, and I was being welcomed by new member Chenzhou Fengyue Environmental Protection Co Ltd, who gave me a fascinating tour of their factory, and took me for a spicy Hunan Province lunch. I had the opportunity to present them with their membership certificate in person, something that is sadly not often possible.
The following day, another new MMTA member, Kailida of Changsha was my host. Xiao Fang not only shared an impressive lobster with me, but also took me to visit her company, followed by the garden island in the centre of the city’s river, where we visited the commemorative statue of the young Mao Zedong.
Then it was on to the CNIA’s 2nd Global Minor Metals Forum (China) in Chengdu, where MMTA Chairman, James Peer, opened the conference. He stressed the importance of China to the minor metals industry, and the importance of the MMTA in bringing together all elements of what is a global supply chain, essential to our modern way of life.
On the first evening, the MMTA was delighted to welcome many MMTA members and over 120 other conference delegates to the MMTA banquet dinner.
The conference focussed on elements important to the Chinese economy. These included indium—with presentations from MMTA members Indium Corporation and Zhuzhou Keneng New Material Co Ltd., gallium, selenium and the development of ITO target materials.
One key theme was the significant impact supply-side structural reform will have on the minor metals industry. Antaike’s Feng Juncong illustrated that new environmental regulations will not be peripheral, and will have a significant impact on future supply from China.
The conference heard from both producers and consumers of a range of minor metals, including a section on solar technology developments, with speakers from Vital Materials, First Solar and CNBM (Chengdu) Optoelectronic Materials Co Ltd, who welcomed delegates to a site visit of their solar panel factory in the city on the final day of the conference. Amongst other things, we saw innovative power-generating glass walls, a solar powered electric bike charging area, which the company envisages as a precursor to developing an EV charging park, and an experimental solar road surface.
The final stop on my tour was Beijing, where after meeting with CNIA and Antaike and enjoying traditional Beijing hotpot with them, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, both of which were stunning historical sites.
I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to all my wonderful hosts during my stay in China.