China, the world's largest steel manufacturer, always maintains substantial demand for needle coke. In 2015, against the backdrop of domestic economic slowdown, the price of needle coke fell by 30-35 percent compared the same period last year. However, overall needle coke supply reached 120kt for the whole year, basically being level with last year's figure. Among them, domestic production output was 53kt, down 24 percent year on year; the volume of imports was 67kt, a year-on-year increase of 26 percent. Thanks to its dramatic growth, import volume of petroleum needle coke hit 42.8kt in 2015, surging 129 percent year on year.
On the back of a variety of favorable policies introduced for new energy vehicles, the development of China's new energy vehicles has got on the fast track in 2015, which, in consequence, prompted rapid growth of the entire lithium battery industry. Data shows output value of China's lithium battery exceeded 80 billion yuan in 2015, and the number is estimated to surpass 160 billion in 2018, with a compound annual growth rate of over 25 percent. According to information compiled by ICC News, actual output of lithium battery anode materials in China was about 91.6kt in 2015, rising 40 percent year on year; demand for needle coke was about 20kt, jumping 150 percent year on year. The situation raised curtain on large-scale capacity expansion at power battery manufactures, and the power battery industry began to see waves of expansion and investment. Li-ion battery materials enterprises followed suit. Anode materials, one of the four major materials for manufacturing lithium battery, became just as popular. ICC News forecasts by 2020, annual demand for needle coke from anode materials areas will exceed 80kt.
According to the outline of 13th Five Year Plan, general aim for China's steel industry development comes down to green and intelligent steel manufacturing process and products, R&D and application of technology integration. Meanwhile, iron and steel enterprises should "go out" riding on "the Belt and Road initiative" strategies. For instance, Baosteel's Thailand project is progressing in order; Hebei Iron & Steel Group took a controlling stake in DufercoDPH, the world's largest steel trading company, and partnered up with South Africa to set up a new steel plant. Moreover, there are some private steel enterprises having established steel production sites in Indonesia. All cases demonstrate China's iron and steel enterprises have made concrete steps toward "going out".
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