Current status and prospects of China's nitrate industry
Click:9    DateTime:Jan.29,2024

Niu Tianliang, Nitrocalcium Magnesium Fertilizer Branch of China Nitrogen Fertilizer Industry Association


China's nitrate products can not only meet the rapid development of domestic industries including pharmaceutical, dye, chemical fiber, glass, steel, fireworks, and construction, but also constitute a significant portion of exports. At present, China has transformed from a nitrate importing country to a nitrate exporting country. In 2022, China's nitrate production capacity reached about 4.5 million t/a, including 600 000 t/a of calcium nitrate, 2 million t/a of potassium nitrate, 400 000 t/a of magnesium nitrate, 1.14 million t/a of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, and more than 100 000 t/a other nitrate products such as cobalt nitrate, nickel nitrate, manganese nitrate, zinc nitrate, copper nitrate, etc. In addition, ongoing projects for sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite production include Chengdu Wintrue Holding Co., Ltd.'s 300 000 t/a, Jiaocheng Knlan Chemical Co., Ltd.'s 100 000 t/a, and Shanxi Leixin Chemical Co., Ltd.'s 50 000 t/a.

China’s production of calcium nitrate and magnesium nitrate is concentrated in Shanxi, while potassium nitrate is distributed across Shanxi, Sichuan, and Shandong. Sodium nitrate production is spread across Shandong, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, and Sichuan, and nitrates utilizing sodium saltpeter and potassium saltpeter as raw materials are primarily concentrated in Xinjiang.

Development environment

Over the past two decades, China's economy has experienced rapid growth, and the nitrate industry has also maintained steady and continuous development.

From an international perspective, the price of global bulk commodity has increased in overall, leading to an increase in the operating costs of the nitrate industry. Additionally, the surge in oil prices has also resulted in high inflationary pressures worldwide. What’s more, affected by the pandemic, the world economic recovery is difficult. Moreover, global production and supply are not smooth, adding greater pressure and difficulties to the global salt industry.

Overall, although domestic development is also facing the pressure of shrinking demand, supply shocks and weakening expectations, the fundamentals of the nitrate industry have remained relatively unchanged for a long time. In particular, the rise of the domestic energy storage industry in recent years has provided new opportunities and development space for the development of the nitrate industry. 

Development strategy during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025)

1. Promote technological progress and encourage differentiated development

While meeting the basic needs of customers, enterprises must continue to innovate to meet customers’ personalized needs, and further create more business opportunities for enterprises.

2. Strengthen industrial socialization construction

At present, the investment of China's nitrate industry has gradually focused on corporate investment, with government support playing a secondary role. The government and development zones continue to carry out investment promotion activities. On the one hand, it is encouraged to guide large economic organizations to participate in industrial investment; On the other hand, it shall carry out in-depth integration of industry, academia and research to promote enterprises to increase investment in scientific research and carry out technological transformation and equipment investment. These measures are important means to promote industrial development, at the same time, meeting the needs of social development, accelerating the upgrading of traditional industrial chains, and providing strong support for the high-quality development of the industry.

3. Acceleration of large-scale industrial development

With the socialization of the nitrate industry, it has transformed from units and individuals to regionalization. Therefore, socialization is an inevitable process for its large-scale development. In addition, the "Internet +" of the nitrate industry has also accelerated the realization of scale production.

4. Opportunities and challenges for future development

In today's fierce market competition environment, in accordance with the overall requirements and deployment of the national nitrate industry plan, it is necessary to establish and improve a self-discipline management mechanism for the nitrate industry, vigorously promote the optimization and upgrading of the nitrate industry structure, expand the market share of high-end products, and transform the current situation of low-level vicious competition. Additionally, small and medium-sized nitrate enterprises should be encouraged to develop towards "specialization, specialization and innovation" to better meet the needs of end customers. Moreover, it is also crucial to establish a complete information management system, integrate technical services in the nitrate industry, and effectively transform from products-selling to services-selling.

According to the high-quality development requirements of China's chemical industry during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), it should adhere to green, upgraded and open development to achieve sustainable development of resources and harmonious development of environment and ecology. This is both a new challenge and opportunity for the nitrate industry. Only with high-quality development can the nitrate industry continue to meet the high-end and specialized needs of relevant industries in the upstream and downstream industrial chains, and improve enterprise production efficiency and input-output value. In the future, the integration of traditional chemical industry, the development of new chemical materials, and the upgrading of new chemical energy should be taken as the leading direction for the high-quality development of the nitrate industry. It is also essential to consider the healthy, orderly, and sustainable development of the new energy storage industry as a mission. This approach aims to facilitate the green transformation and development of enterprises, as well as the ongoing development and promotion of new nitrate-based fertilizers, empowering the healthy growth of the nitrate industry and making new contributions to the green development of China's agriculture.