Will High-purity Quartz Sand Become The Next “Lithium Carbonate”
Recently there is a worry spreading in the market that high-purity quartz sand will become the next lithium carbonate, but we think there are big differences between the two industries.
On the one hand, lithium carbonate accounts for about 50% of the cost of downstream batteries. The price increase of lithium carbonate will have a certain impact on downstream profits and demand, while quartz sand accounts for only about 2% of the cost of downstream silicon wafers. Significant impact, but low downstream cost sensitivity.
On the other hand, during the price increase of lithium carbonate, enterprises have expanded their production one after another, and the industry concentration and production barriers are not high. However, the scarcity of high-purity placer sources and the superimposition of purification processes determine that their products have certain barriers and are increasing in price. In the process, there are very few high-quality production capacity in the industry that can really expand production, and the competition pattern is excellent.
In addition, high-purity sand enjoys the highest profit distribution in the photovoltaic industry chain, which also confirms that the industry barriers are significantly higher than lithium carbonate, and the lithium carbonate industry chain enjoys high profit distribution at the ore end.
1. The quality of high-quality quartz sand will become the winner of the downstream non-silicon cost difference
The trend of large-scale silicon wafers is clear, and the size upgrades are accelerating. Under the trend of large size, the quality requirements of large-size quartz crucibles for high-purity sand will also increase accordingly.
On the one hand, the larger the size of the quartz crucible, the larger the contact area between the inner surface of the crucible and the silicon liquid, so the requirements for the quality stability and consistency of the sand in the inner layer of the crucible are also higher. Otherwise, the crystallization of silicon (whole rod rate , crystallization rate, heating time, direct processing cost, etc.) and the quality of monocrystalline silicon (perforated sheet, black chip, etc.) will have a certain negative impact. For example, the larger the size of the quartz crucible, the more silicon liquid needs to be melted per unit time, and the greater the heating power of the thermal field is required, thus putting forward higher requirements for the high temperature resistance of high-purity sand, and the higher the temperature Under the environment, the crystallization speed of impurities will be accelerated. Therefore, the large-sized crucible also puts forward higher requirements on the high-temperature resistance, purity, and strength of quartz sand as a whole.
Large-sized quartz crucibles have higher requirements for the purity, gas-liquid inclusions, particle size distribution, and consistency of high-purity quartz sand. The scarcity of high-quality quartz sand will also affect the production cost and quality of downstream silicon wafer companies, and that cause differences in this line.
High-purity sand has a major impact on downstream secondary costs and product quality. In order to ensure their own cost and quality leadership, downstream companies will most likely increase their competition for high-quality quartz sand.
2. The high-purity quartz sand industry chain has high profit margins and high entry barriers
The concentration of the high-purity sand industry is significantly higher than that of the lithium carbonate industry. For lithium carbonate, the industry maintains a relatively high concentration. Based on the advancement of their own purification technology and reserves of good-quality ore sources, large enterprises have also announced production expansion plans against the background of continuous growth in demand, but small and medium-sized enterprises in the industry are limited by their own unstable ore resources and backward purification technology, and there are few large-scale expansion activities. And the products are mainly outer sand with lower barriers.