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China to cut export quotas for antimony, tungsten and other specialty metals

Bearing testimony to the fact that China’s geopolitical power play stretches beyond rare earths elements, around which its restrictive export policies were centered in recent months, China has announced it is going to cut export quotas for other specialty metals as well.   According to Nasdaq, Beijing’s China Daily News and the Rare Earths industry journal have reported about planned cuts to the export quotas for tin, tungsten, antimony, and molybdenum for 2012.

Unlike REEs, the current shortage of which has drawn global attention, few are aware of supply challenges associated with metals like antimony and tungsten.  Yet, in light of growing demand for these metals which are used in a wide array of applications, China’s announcement to cut export quotas is highly relevant, as it produces around 90 percent of the world’s antimony supply and 85 percent of global tungsten output according to USGS data.

The British Geological Survey seems to have read the writing on the wall, as it recently listed antimony and tungsten as some of the critical metals most at risk of supply disruptions. On this side of the Atlantic, however, the realization that failure to explore potential domestic deposits of antimony and tungsten – as well as many other critical minerals the U.S. is blessed to have beneath its soil – exposes U.S. industries to unnecessary supply risks, has yet to sink in.