China’s Hsikwangshan reopens antimony furnace

Beijing —

Major Chinese antimony producer Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star restarted its blast furnace this week, after suspending it for more than a month because of a shortage of concentrate feedstock availability.

The firm is aiming to ensure metal output of 1,500 t/month after reopening the blast furnace to meet its annual production target, although concentrate supplies from other countries have remained tight.

Hsikwangshan’s south mine reached its monthly production targets in April and May, with 1,200 t/month metal equivalent of antimony concentrate output during the two months, according to a company source.

China imported 7,545t of antimony concentrate during January-April, down by 41pc from the previous year, according to customs data. Shipments were 988t in April, down sharply from 2,493t in March and from 4,797t a year earlier.

Hsikwangshan, with 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.

Most private-sector metal producers in Lengshuijiang city, China’s largest antimony production hub, have yet to reopen their blast furnaces, which produce the intermediate feedstock antimony oxygen powder, because of tight concentrate supplies. It will be difficult for them to reopen the furnaces this year because all feedstock supplies will be shipped to large-scale producers such as Hsikwangshan and Chenzhou Mining, according to sources at the smelters. But some of them may be still operating some refining furnaces with a certain volume of metal output by using standby feedstock inventories, according to market participants. The seven producers in Lengshuijiang have a combined metal capacity of 35,000-40,000 t/yr.

China produced 7,204t of antimony metal in April, up from 5,821t a year earlier but down slightly from 7,324t in March, according to data from the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association. Output during January-April totalled 24,950t, up from 20,562t for the same period last year.

The Chinese antimony market has been subdued with the reduced activity, with most producers withholding material sales at lower prices and consumers showing limited restocking interest. Most participants are sitting on the market sidelines while waiting for a recovery in economy when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. Prices for 99.85pc grade antimony metal were last assessed at 80,000-81,000 yuan/t ($11,957-12,106/t) on 31 May, unchanged since 10 May.

Article Retrieved from: ArgusMetal

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