The Future Antimony Market
In 2011 the global demand for antimony was approximately 210,000t. Roskill predicts the global antimony demand to reach 240,000t. Not all of the demand requirements are filled from mining. Some of the demand is filled by antimony reclamation. Antimony is primarily used in flame retardants, acid lead batteries, PET catalysts, ceramics, and metal alloys. New applications for antimony are also being developed. In March of 2012, MIT professor, Dr. Donald Sadoway announced a breakthrough invention that uses antimony as a main component: the liquid metal battery. The liquid metal battery can store energy created by renewable sources such as wind, solar, and wave. The liquid metal battery is not ready for mass production but is on the horizon.
In 2011 the British Geological Survey Risk List ranked antimony number one industrial risk. This price is very likely to rise over the next 5 to 10 years. The British Geological Survey Risk considers several factors when creating the list. Geopolitical factors, estimated reserves, resource nationalism, strikes, and current and forecast consumption. The British survey is just one of many noting concern for the antimony market. The European Commission, US Geological Survey, Adroit Resources, World Bureau of Metal statistics and others forecast that antimony reserves may be exhausted by 2020.
Current antimony prices reflect this concern as well. From a 2001 market low of $1286/mt, in 2012, the antimony metal price ranged from $13,977/mt (June, 2012) to $9,281/mt (2014 annual average). This price increase is due in part to Chinese increase in resource regulation, closing or limiting smelter production, and environmental conservation. Where China continues to be the largest exporter of antimony in the world, in 2011 China imported 60,150t of antimony. In 2009 China produced 85% of the global antimony dropping to 75% in 2011. Based on the current market trends as well as a very conservative estimate of future growth, we speculate that the antimony market will continue to climb at a rate of at least $1,000 per year. Using this estimate, in 2020 the antimony price will be 21,000,00/t. This represents a 6.02% increase over the next 8 years.
China’s Influence on the Antimony Market
Once China established a positive trade balance, they constricted production and exports to support their internal market. In 2011, China imported 60,150 tons of antimony placers and concentrates, 3,214 tons of antimony oxide, 492 tons of antimony metal and products.
It is expected that China will continue to reduce antimony output as global source are depleted.