Electrolytic manganese, also known as electrolytic metal manganese. It is obtained by using manganese ore to extract manganese salt through acid leaching, and then electrolytically separating the elemental metal. Electrolytic manganese has a similar appearance to iron and is silver-white or brown in color at room temperature and normal pressure, with an irregular flake-like structure, one side being shiny, and the other side being rough. It readily oxidizes in the air, is soluble in dilute acid solutions, and can release hydrogen gas when exposed to temperatures higher than room temperature. As the production processes have matured, there are various types of electrolytic manganese, broadly categorized as common grade (P), electronic grade (D), high-purity grade (G), and more.
Metal manganese is primarily used in the production of stainless steel, high manganese steel, heat-resistant steel, tool steel, non-ferrous metal alloys (such as Cu, and Al alloys), and as a raw material for producing soft magnetic materials (high-purity MnCO3, Mn3Co4), welding rods, and more. While traditional pyrometallurgical processes for producing metal manganese ingots are lengthy, complex, low-yield, and environmentally polluting, existing techniques use small amounts of iron added in an intermediate frequency furnace to melt metal manganese flakes to prepare metal manganese ingots. However, metal manganese flakes are prone to oxidation at high temperatures, resulting in low manganese recovery, severe pollution, low production, and higher costs compared to electrolytic metal manganese flakes.
Electrolytic metal manganese is the main material for producing manganese tetroxide. Due to its high purity and low impurities, it is an essential alloying element in the production of stainless steel, high-strength low-alloy steel, aluminum-manganese alloys, copper-manganese alloys, as well as in the production of welding rods, ferrite, permanent magnet alloy elements, and many manganese salt products in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The development of vibration-reduction alloys also requires the use of electrolytic metal manganese. In recent years, the global aluminum industry has become a major user of electrolytic metal manganese. In the steel industry, electrolytic metal manganese is used as a deoxidizer and desulfurizer. It is estimated that, on average, every ton of steel consumes 0.06 kg of electrolytic metal manganese.
With advancements in metallurgical technology, efficient steel, and injection metallurgy have seen significant development, leading to an increasing application of electrolytic metal manganese powder in the metallurgical industry, surpassing the mentioned indicators. In recent years, due to the rapid development of special steel, especially the development of 200-series stainless steel in China, the share of metal manganese in metallurgy has been growing. Aluminum-manganese alloys are modern lightweight construction materials, used in decorative engineering materials and corrosion-resistant support materials for underground projects. In recent years, aluminum-manganese alloy doors and windows have gradually entered ordinary residential homes in China, significantly expanding the market for metal manganese.
At the current stage, China’s electrolytic manganese industry chain has matured. In the upstream sector of the industry chain, materials such as sulfuric acid, manganese ore, manganese carbonate powder, and related additives are supplied. The midstream sector consists of the electrolytic manganese production industry, responsible for the production and manufacturing of electrolytic manganese. The downstream sector primarily caters to various application areas, including steel, aerospace, food, chemicals, metallurgy, electronics, pharmaceuticals, and more.
In recent years, with the gradual increase in China’s economic level and the rapid development of the steel industry, downstream demand for steel has been growing. In this context, China’s steel production has gradually increased. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2022, China’s steel production was 1,340.335 million tons, an increase of 0.3% compared to the previous year. Electrolytic manganese, as a fundamental raw material for steel production, can effectively remove impurities such as oxygen and sulfur in the steelmaking process, enhance steel hardness, and improve wear resistance, causing fluctuations in its market.
At the current stage, driven by the continuous growth in demand in the downstream market, China’s electrolytic manganese industry is experiencing rapid growth. However, as China faces increasingly severe environmental pollution and stricter environmental requirements, the electrolytic manganese industry, characterized by high pollution and energy consumption, is subject to certain limitations in its development. As China’s electrolytic manganese industry gradually undergoes industrial structural upgrades and eliminates outdated production capacity, its production has shown a declining trend. In 2022, China’s electrolytic manganese production was 1.151 million tons, a decrease of 12.3% compared to the previous year.