International supply woes for Antimony may see an easing going forward as an Italian mining project progresses. According to The Telegraph, Canada-based Androit Resources expects to get its permits for exploratory drilling in Southern Tuscany within weeks.
As with virtually any mining project, there is local opposition to the project based on environmental concerns, but with strict regulations in place and updated technologies, the company is confident that it “would return the site of the mine to a better state than it was in before,” while bringing much-needed employment to an economically depressed area.
We have called Antimony the “the little-known but much-used metal nobody heard about for years.” Indeed, Antimony has a wide range of applications, and Western Antimony mines were in operation until the 1990s. However, China flooded the market with cheap Antimony and many of these operations closed – leaving the Chinese with control over more than 90% of global output. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that the British Geological Survey’s Risk List 2011 ranked Antimony as the metal most likely to be in critical supply.
The fact that this is another mineral for which our domestic manufacturers find themselves largely at the mercy of China should give policymakers pause. While principal reserves of Antimony have been identified in Bolivia, Russia, China and South Africa, Antimony has been recovered as a byproduct of treating complex silver-copper-antimony sulfide ore in the U.S., so there is potential for increased domestic Antimony recovery.