Coal tar: an neglected industry


Most of China's coal tar is a byproduct of the coking process. With the rise of domestic coke construction, the production of coal tar has soared, and the current annual output of coal tar has reached 7 million tons. However, as the domestic coal tar industry is “small and scattered,” lagging behind in technology, used as fuel, and a large number of exports have caused downstream companies to stop production, industry sources stated that the coal tar industry needs to be adjusted.

"Small and scattered" is the biggest problem

In recent years, coking companies across the country have started to develop coal tar processing operations, but the current situation of “small and scattered” and technologically backward processing is worrying. At present, the internationally mature coal tar processing scale is above 200,000 tons/year, and the most advanced technology in Germany and Japan has reached 750,000 tons/year. Many enterprises in China still use small devices imported from the former Soviet Union in the 1950s, and their processing capacity is below 100,000 tons/year. Driven by profits, the recent domestic coal tar processing has undergone a disorderly development, especially in Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and other places. In the past two years, more than ten tar processing plants with an annual production capacity of 30,000 to 50,000 tons have been launched in Shanxi Province. The environmental pollution is serious and it is not conducive to the effective use of resources.

At the same time, China's current coal tar processing technology is relatively backward, only to stay in the roughing stage, the use of foreign advanced technology can extract more than 200 kinds of organic matter, and the current domestic technology can only extract more than 40 kinds. Moreover, as most of the domestic enterprises are eager for quick success, they are reluctant to increase investment in technical reforms, and China's coal tar processing technology has basically stagnated.

It is particularly saddening that at present, the waste of coal tar resources in China is quite serious. With the continuous rise in the price of oil on the international market, some of the production enterprises that used to be fuelled by heavy oil have burned coal tar, which has relatively low prices and are not refined, and burned a large amount of precious resources.

The phenomenon of back-selling deserves attention

China's lagging coal tar deep processing technology, together with some domestic companies eager to export large amounts of coal tar in front of the interests, resulting in Japan and other countries using advanced technology to refine the refined coal tar products back to China. The value of organic products extracted from coal tar is more than six times that of raw materials, and the sales of coal tar processed products such as industrial naphthalene and carbon black are severely reversed, causing greater economic losses in China. In 2005, China imported 500.46 tons of industrial naphthalene from Japan, an increase of 30.5% year-on-year, with a value of 24.24 million US dollars.

Heavy export leads to downstream production suspension

Due to the protection of coal tar resources in various countries in the world, coal tar prices in the international market have increased to US$240/ton. In 2005, Tianjin Port's average export price was US$180/ton, which represented a year-on-year increase of 12.1%. While domestic prices averaged around RMB 1,000/ton, plus 13% of export rebates, the profits were considerable, resulting in a sharp increase in coal tar exports.

With the shortage of domestic coal resources, coal tar, which is a by-product of coke, is also starting to fall short of supply. The massive export of coal tar in China has further exacerbated the domestic coal tar market, and its price has continued to rise. In the second half of 2005, China's coal tar price doubled in a row, even rising from the lowest 600-700 yuan/ton to the highest 2,200 yuan/ton.

China’s lack of understanding of the important position of coal tar in the national economy has led to a lack of restrictions on its export, which has caused some downstream companies to stop production due to the high price of coal tar. According to Liu Guoqin, general manager of Hebei Tanshan Coopers (China) Carbon Chemicals Co., Ltd., a large-scale downstream coal tar industry company in Hebei Province, some companies have lost $5 million a month due to the high raw material coal tar price, which has to be repaired. Discontinued. He said that apart from causing loss of start-and-lose work costs, it could easily lead to safety accidents.

Establish related industry associations as soon as possible

For the current situation of China's coal tar industry, industry sources said that at present the country should adjust the coal tar industry to increase its efforts in upgrading manufacturing levels, controlling overheating, and curbing exports.

First of all, the state should increase support for the coal tar processing industry and form a coal tar processing industry complex. Change the status of “small and scattered” enterprises, promote technological innovation, and establish a network of remote coal tar deep processing joint research and development technologies to vigorously increase resource utilization in the manufacturing sector and promote the development of coal tar industry in the direction of concentration, energy conservation, high efficiency, and cleanliness. .

Second, the country should use policy leverage as soon as possible to curb the export of coal tar and control the phenomenon of burning coal tar. In 2005, the export tax rebate rate for coal tar in China was 13%, and tax rebates became the main source of corporate profits. The state should adopt policies that do not encourage exports in principle. After the export tax rebate was lifted in January 2006, it may consider increasing specific taxes, reducing the export profits of enterprises, and curbing the momentum of export growth. At the same time, policies can be introduced to raise the threshold for burning coal tar and avoid waste.

Again, there is no coal tar industry organization in China at present, and the disorderly competition in the industry is serious. It is recommended that relevant industry associations be established as soon as possible to manage and guide the normal operation of China's coal tar market. At the same time, an orderly competition mechanism was introduced to form an information sharing system to standardize the coal tar market and to effectively protect and rationally use resources.

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