February 27, 2018
The new rebar standard announced by the Standardization Administration for the People’s Republic of China is welcome news to one industry supplier.
“The revised rebar standard bodes well for long-term vanadium demand and pricing that has already outperformed the energy metals lithium and cobalt, combined, over the past three years,” said Adriaan Bakker, CEO of VanadiumCorp. “VanadiumCorp is positioned well to establish new supply streams with its disruptive green-process technology jointly developed with Electrochem Technologies and Materials Inc.”
The announcement includes a special action to cut down on the use of all substandard steels in China. The new rebar standard, and related action, is expected to be implemented by November of this year.
According to the Metal Bulletin, vanadium pricing has soared greater than 550 per cent over the past three years. The price range for vanadium pentoxide has continued to strengthen this month, trading as high as US$13.50/lb.
Tightened supply is a recurrent issue as vanadium pentoxide production is tailored to the steel industry, and vanadium producers are not financially motivated to develop processes for optimized, low-cost production of electrolytes required by vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFB).
Stricter steel regulations in China, increasing use in steel alloys, and new applications such as robotics, supercomputers, and sustainable vanadium-based energy storage technologies are underpinning continued increase in demand, unsustainable without new supplies.
High-strength low-alloy vanadium steels are the most efficient material available for the continued development of worldwide infrastructure. The new rebar standard will enhance the quality of rebar, allowing China to build earthquake-resistant homes and mitigate costs throughout the entire supply chain.
The first key changes to rebar policy in China were made in response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which killed over 69,000 people and injured 374,176. The earthquake left approximately 11 million people homeless. Approximately 15 million people reside in the affected area hit by the 21st deadliest earthquake of all time.
On November 6, 2008, the Central Government of China announced that it would spend 1 trillion RMB (about US $146.5 billion) over the subsequent three years to rebuild areas ravaged by the earthquake. As part of the Chinese economic stimulus program, new codes aimed to restrict and gradually eliminate the use of lower strength bars (Grade II) were introduced.
From 2013 onwards, laws and regulations were more strictly enforced, however, reports from China suggest that “fake” rebar of Grade III and above are sometimes sold. To curtail this, many smaller steel producers have already been shut down in support of this new policy.
China produces approximately 200 million metric tons of rebar each year. Typical vanadium content in grade 3 rebar is 0.3 kilograms of vanadium per metric ton of steel.
China’s new high-strength rebar standard is designed to limit the use of inferior steels in construction. The standard eliminates low strength Grade 2 rebar and sets out specifications for three different high strength standards: Grade 3 (400MPa), Grade 4 (500MPa), and Grade 5 (600MPa). These will require 0.03% V, 0.06% V, and more than 0.1% V respectively.
(VanadiumCorp Resource Inc.)