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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2006
18 Worldwide: www.metalcaster.com www.metals.rala.com.au CHINA China's Growth - Skills and Environmental Challenges By Elius Levin The overwhelming experience of 2006 for the Chinese foundry industry is confidence buoyed by continued growth. Based on the strength of the larger economy, many firms indicate confidence built on the year-on-year growth for 2005-2006, with firm expectations that this will continue for 2006-2007. The automotive sector is clearly riding a wave, which has had a positive knock-on effect for the automotive components casting sector. As well, other sectors such as heavy engineering, construction, rail and shipping also exhibit buoyancy. Figures cited vary between a growth rate of 10%, based on national government figures, to a high of 20%. A general comparison between privately-owned (PO) and state-owned (SO) foundries -- a complicated exercise at the best of times -- indicates that the SO rapidly continue to lose market share to the PO; currently market share for the SO sector is reportedly around 30%. While conditions are generally positive, structurally there are a number of problems which appear to have beset the state- owned foundries, with possible ramifications for the larger industry. Yet, the major common concern for firms for 2007 is the gradually increasing local environmental legislation and protection, against the background of severe water, air and land degradation, while bottlenecks in labour supply, along with the question of 'will they, won't they?' as regards the implementation of advanced management methods by many in the state-owned sectors, have also been pinpointed. Such growth translates to China's current production of about 20 m tonnes of castings per year. Overall, 2006 government figures indicate increases in iron, ductile, precision, steel and alloy, and lost wax castings, as well as increases in the casting mix. Changes in casting mix production are also expected to result in an increased output per kwatt/hr. While there has been a decline of government involvement in the Teksid Plant, China AsianFoundryOverview