ITO (indium tin oxide) sputtering targets are one of the core and critical materials in electronic information area, mainly for the manufacture of flat panel liquid crystal displays, touch panel, thin film transistors, solar cells, transparent electrodes and multifunction glass.
Currently, global ITO sputtering targets are almost monopolized by a small minority of enterprises such as JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Mitsui Mining, Tosoh, Samsung, Heraeus and Umicore, in which Japanese and Korean companies account for nearly 80% of the market share. For lack of core technology, Chinese ITO sputtering target enterprises are still small in production scale, and basically in trial production or small batch production.
Global ITO sputtering target demand mainly comes from Japan, South Korea, mainland China and other Asian countries, of which China accounts for more than 35% of the total. Benefited from the rapid development of downstream industries such as flat panel displays, touch panels, etc., global ITO sputtering target demand will hit 2,500 tons or so by 2016, of which China's demand will exceed 40%, as it is estimated.
In addition to supply & demand market influence, ITO sputtering targets are also directly affected by raw material indium market. 70% of the global indium is used for ITO sputtering target production, but the indium resource is very scarce, with basic reserves merely 16,000 tons. While the current global annual consumption is about 1,400 tons, thus, long-term supply of indium will suffer bottlenecks.
China is rich is indium in the world, whose basic reserves make up 62% of the world's total. Slow developments in downstream deep processing industries, especially in ITO sputtering target market, lead to substantial indium export in China, while ITO sputtering target present a high dependence on import.
In order to break bottlenecks in technology and capacity and utilize indium resource effectively, Chinese enterprises have accelerated R&D and introduction of ITO sputtering technology and multiple high-end ITO sputtering target localization projects have been launched.