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Cradle of titanium goes from strength to strength

Shaanxi province's Baoji tops worldwide in size of industrial cluster for all major products derived from super-strong metal

By ZHENG YIRAN in Beijing and QIN FENG in Xi'an | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-28 10:26

Baoti Group's titanium products are displayed at its factory in Baoji. [Photo/China Daily]

Small, but effective

In Baoji, SMEs are also giving full play to their advantages in this sector.

For example, Baoji High Tech Xinglong Co Ltd has supplied special titanium material for 300 C919 aircraft, Baoji Kehui Titanium Co Ltd has successfully developed the largest titanium alloy forging in Asia, and Baoji Xinnuo New Metal has become the largest medical-use titanium alloy material manufacturing company in China.

Currently, there are over 600 enterprises alongside the titanium industrial chain in Baoji, including 12 national-level "little giant" enterprises, three provincial-level chain owners, four provincial-level manufacturing champion enterprises, and 10 provincial-level listed reserve enterprises.

There are more than 100 smelting furnaces for titanium and titanium alloys, more than 20 sets of fast forging machines with a capacity of 1,000 to 10,000 tons, and more than 10 large plate and strip machines with widths ranging between 1 and 3.3 meters.

The city's rolling and processing equipment for pipes, rods and wires, production and processing capabilities for titanium metal composites, and production capabilities for titanium precision castings have all ranked among the top in the industry.

Han Mingfang, head of the bureau of economic cooperation in Baoji, said: "With 64 billion yuan of production value in 2023, the titanium industry in Baoji has outstanding advantages in production equipment, process technology, research and development innovation capabilities, inspection and testing methods, and brand awareness.

"Currently, there are over 1,000 R&D employees in the titanium industry in Baoji, and the city has several scientific research institutions including Baoti Research Institute, and Northwest Institute for Nonferrous Metal Research. We have a strong industrial foundation, effective policy measures, an excellent business environment, great gathering of industrial talent, and precise investment attraction."

She noted that Baoji has placed the titanium and titanium alloy industrial chain at the top of the city's 13 major industrial chains, with key leaders of the government serving as supervisors of the industrial chain.

The city has issued a series of guiding policies, set up an industry development fund of 10 billion yuan, and established titanium trading centers and research institutes, to promote the clustered, high-quality development of the industry.

In 2022, the Baoji municipal government issued an action plan to promote the high-quality development of the titanium and titanium alloy industry in the city.

According to the action plan, by the end of 2025, Baoji should be capable of producing 100,000 tons of titanium a year, and the annual production value of the industry cluster should surpass 100 billion yuan. There should be at least five listed titanium companies, and 100 high-level talented people introduced to the city.

Currently, among the major titanium projects in Baoji, the technical renovation and expansion project of the Baoti industrial park, which is worth 1.76 billion yuan, as well as the group's precision machining project, with an investment of 520 million yuan, are all progressing smoothly.

Qu Fang, an investment consultant at Wanlian Securities, said: "Although there is a complete titanium industrial chain in China, there is a lack of high-end products; the downstream of the industrial chain has not been fully tapped into, and the participation of the capital market is insufficient."

Zheng Lei, chief economist at cloud services provider Smydigtech, said that the future development of the titanium industry will be more diversified, innovative and high-end. Major application fields include aerospace, national defense and military, new energy, medical and health, ocean engineering and shipbuilding, and new material research and development.

"In the future, based on scientific innovation, the titanium industry in Baoji aims to accelerate the collaborative development of industry, academia, research and application, promoting digitalization and industrial standardization, and expanding toward the mid to high-end value chain," Han from the bureau of economic cooperation in Baoji said.

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