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Antimony re-enters international spotlight

Happy Antimony Month! (Said like an-tim-oh-nee in case you didn’t already know.)

With the release of the British Geological Survey’s Risk List 2011, which ranked antimony as the metal most likely to be in critical supply, our “metal of the month” re-enters the international spotlight.  According to The Australian, the little-known but much-used metal nobody heard about for years is now “everywhere and is attracting some experienced players.”

The disappearance of antimony from people’s radars for much of the last decade is largely due to China flooding the market with cheap antimony during the 1990′s, leading many Western antimony mining operations to close.  Consequently, we’re currently faced with a supply picture that is very similar to the REE supply scenario: China controls more than 90 percent of global output.

In light of antimony prices surging to $14,200 per metric tonne in recent months (courtesy of China’s restrictive policies and growing demand for the metal), the rest of the world is taking steps to secure supplies independent of China. Several dormant antimony mining operations are currently being brought back online, among them projects in Australia, Mexico, and Macedonia.

With our import dependency rate for the critical metal standing at 93 percent, wouldn’t now be a good time to explore and develop our own antimony deposits, of which the U.S. fortunate to have significant quantities?