Silicon metal, also known as industrial silicon, is a product made by smelting silica and carbonaceous reducing agent in a submerged arc furnace. It is mainly used to produce organic silicon, prepare high-purity semiconductor materials, and formulate alloys for special purposes. In recent years, with the rapid expansion of the international silicon metal market and the continuous adjustment of the industrial structure, the production capacity of the main silicon metal production areas has been gradually released, and the output has also been in a steady growth trend.
This article will give you a detailed description of the silicon metal price trend in 2020-2021 and the future development of the silicon metal market.
Main Application Areas of Silicon Metal
Silicon metal is industrially purified elemental silicon. The main component of silicon is usually 98.5%-99.99%. The remaining impurities are iron, aluminum, calcium, etc. In addition to elemental silicon, silicon alloys, including silicon carbide, ferro silicon, silicon manganese, etc., are also used in industry.
In the refractory industry, silicon metal is mainly used as an antioxidant. The main uses of metal silicon in the industrial field are as follows.
Used to produce silicone
One of the important uses of silicon metal is to produce silicone rubber, silicone resin, silicone oil, and other silicone.
Manufacturing high-purity semiconductors
Modern large-scale integrated circuits are almost all made of high-purity metal silicon, and high-purity metal silicon is still the main raw material for the production of optical fibers. It can be said that metal silicon has become a basic pillar industry in the information age.
Metal silicon is an important raw material for manufacturing silicon aluminum alloy and silicon copper alloy.
Silicon Metal Market Overview
Main production capacity distribution of silicon metal
According to data from the International Silicon Industry Association, the total global industrial silicon production capacity in 2020 will be 6.23 million tons, China’s production capacity will be 4.82 million tons, ranking first in the world, accounting for 77.4% of global production capacity, and Brazil, the world’s second-largest production country, with 0.3 million tons. The total global output in 2020 will be 3.03 million tons, of which China’s output will reach 2.1 million tons, accounting for nearly 70%.
According to data from the International Silicon Industry Association, global industrial silicon consumption in 2020 is 3.11 million tons, and China’s total industrial silicon consumption is 1.64 million tons, accounting for 52.7% of the global proportion. China has become the world’s largest industrial silicon consumer market. Among them, China’s aluminum alloy, organic silicon, and other downstream demand accounted for 45% of global consumption, while China’s downstream demand for polysilicon accounted for as much as 74.2% of the global consumption.
Silicon metal market demand is increasing, but product supply is insufficient
China is the world’s largest producer of silicon metal. According to statistics, from January to July 2021, China’s export volume of silicon metal reached 0.466 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 41%. This is due to the increasing demand for silicon metal in the international market.
However, due to various reasons, there has been a shortage of silicon metal on the supply side, and the imbalance between supply and demand has gradually appeared. At the same time, the silicon metal price continues to rise.
As far as China’s domestic production of silicon metal is concerned, due to the low price of silicon metal in the past few years, coupled with environmental protection and other reasons, many high-cost companies have low operating rates or directly shut down, resulting in reduced production capacity. In the past two years, some silicon metal companies have increased their operating rates, but they have encountered the impact of shortages of high-quality raw materials, power cuts, and accidents, resulting in limited silicon metal production.
In China, as a large silicon metal-producing province, Yunnan’s silicon metal operating rate has a great correlation with the season. Due to the low electricity cost during the high water period, silicon metal companies generally have a higher operating rate during the high water period. In 2021, due to the delay of the high water period and insufficient power supply, the operating rate of silicon metal production is much lower than in previous years. These reasons have led to a sharp increase in the demand for silicon metal, and the silicon metal price has risen.
Analysis of Silicon Metal Price Trend
Summary of price trends in recent years
In 2020, the price of silicon metal fluctuates greatly. Affected by multiple factors, since the second quarter of 2021, as the global epidemic has gradually improved and the supply side has reduced production, the price of products in all links of the downstream photovoltaic industry chain of metal silicon has increased. Among them, the silicon metal price per kg has seen a continuous increase, and it is expected that the price increase trend of metal silicon will continue for a period of time.
Factors influencing the fluctuation of silicon metal price
The production cost of silicon metal includes power cost, raw material cost, equipment cost, etc., of which power cost accounts for the largest proportion, followed by raw material cost. The global silicon metal industry has a high degree of market concentration. With the continuous release of downstream market demand, there is still a lot of room for development in the silicon metal industry.
The rise in silicon metal prices is mainly caused by rising costs and the imbalance between supply and demand.
- High-quality raw materials are scarce, and the output of silicon metal is limited.
- Substantial growth in demand for downstream industries in the silicon industry.
- The production of silicon metal is greatly affected by environmental protection policies, and the supply continues to be under pressure.
In general, it is expected that the shortage of silicon metal will continue before the end of 2021, and the silicon metal price will continue to remain high. In the second half of 2021, some silicon metal production companies and downstream industries will face huge challenges.