Antimony trioxide price hikes24 Dec 2009 • by Natalie Aster
Antimony trioxide prices have risen by around $300/tonne, or between 5-10%, over the last week, as shortages of antimony ore are started to affect the market.
Several antimony metal and antimony trioxide operations have now stopped production, which has pushed the antimony ingot price up by RMB 2,000/tonne ($293/tonne).
Export prices for antimony ingots are now $6,100-6,200/tonne for 99.65% min, FOB China, up from $5,500-5,600/tonne two weeks ago.
The shortages came after production was suspended in late October at Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star Antimony Co Ltd’s underground mine after a major accident that killed 26 people.
The accident, in which a transport cage plummeted down a mine shaft, was at one of the company’s main mines in Hunan Province, and since then no underground mining has occurred.
Twinkling Star is a key supplier to the market, representing around 30% of antimony ore output in China, with a total output of 30,000 tpa. Hsikwangshan also has another antimony mine in Hunan, with production of around 10,000 tpa, which is still operating normally.
The knock-on effect of this is that now according to one trade “almost nobody wants to sell at the present”, as prices are starting to climb. There is no indication at the moment when Twinkling Star may begin production again.
Antimony trioxide prices are now to $5,650-5,700/tonne, for typically 99.5% SbO3, five tonne lots, FOB China, up from $5,300-5,350/tonne.
Another source has put a parcel of trioxide as high as $5,750/tonne same basis, which perhaps indicates that prices may have further to climb. This is despite a quiet marketplace.
There are also a number of market rumours that Hunan province may try to restructure the antimony industry by reducing the number of operating companies and forcing smaller antimony mining companies to consolidate in the wake of the accident.
The reported aim is to reduce the number of companies from 80 to six by consolidation and shutdowns of the smallest producers. This would mirror what has already happened in other mining sectors in China including cement and phosphate fertilisers.
Source: Industrial Minerals
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