Chinese antimony smelters shut furnaces on ore shortage
Beijing, 28 April (Argus) —Major Chinese antimony producer Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star closed its blast furnace this week because of a lack of concentrate feedstock availability. The suspension is expected to last for at least one month.

All seven private-sector metal producers in Lengshuijiang city, China’s largest antimony production hub, have also halted their blast furnaces this month because of concentrate supply shortages. They may not reopen their furnaces this year because all feedstock supplies will be shipped to large producers such as Hsikwangshan and Chenzhou Mining, according to sources at some smelters.

Hsikwangshan’s antimony mine can support only 200-300 t/month metal equivalent of antimony production, so it has to purchase concentrate and metal from other producers to maintain its production. Hsikwangshan, which has 40,000 t/yr of capacity for antimony products, produced 24,000t last year, down from 26,000t in 2020 and 28,000t in 2019.

The seven private-sector metal producers in Lengshuijiang have a combined capacity of 35,000-40,000 t/yr. They are likely to completely stop metal production if concentrate supply shortages persist in May.

China imported 6,557t of antimony concentrate during January-March, down by 18pc from a year ago, according to Chinese customs data. Shipments reached 2,493t in March, down from 3,671t a year earlier. Depleting resources in China and reduced shipments from other countries have prompted the smelters in Lengshuijiang to close their blast furnaces.

Argus assessed prices for 99.85pc grade metal stable at 81,000-82,000 yuan/t ($12,270-12,420/t) ex-works this week, following a fall of Yn1,000/t on 21 April.

“We have limited metal stocks, and sold 40t of 99.85pc grade metal at Yn81,000/t this week to generate cash,” a source at a smelter in Lengshuijiang told Argus.

Most producers and traders are upbeat about the market outlook, despite low demand from downstream consumers over this past month. They find it meaningless to cut offer prices to attract sales because consumers will not make purchases even if prices move lower, after Covid-19 lockdowns forced them to also halt production. Prices are likely to move up in the coming months in light of continued tight supply and expected restocking activity from domestic and overseas consumers, market participants said.

Article Retrieved from: ArgusMetal

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