THE TRENDS OF CHINA’S POLICY OF ANTIMONY AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE WORLD’S SUPPLY
After more than 20 years of high production, the base of China’s antimony mining industry has been undermined with the high-quality resources being depleted rapidly. Statistics from China show that from 2001 to 2012, the identified resources of antimony stagnated while that of many other minerals increased dramatically. During the same period of time, China’s production increased by 50%, which resulted in dramatic decline in reserves/production ratio. In 1995 the ratio was 12, and by 2012 that number declined to 6, threatening the future of China’s antimony industry and the security of supply. Besides that, antimony mining led to serious environmental problems in local communities.
The serious situation faced by the industry aroused the concern of the government. To change the situation, the Chinese government began to reinforce the restriction on mine production. In 2009, after tungsten and rare earths, the government made antimony one of the minerals whose production is under strict control of the government plan. In addition, the government enhanced the threshold of entrance of antimony industry, tightened the granting of mining and exploration licences, and discouraged the export.
All of the measures taken by Chinese government will no doubt reduce the supply of primary antimony. As the world has been over-dependent on China for the antimony supply, it is predicted that the world market will probably witness a tightened supply and an increase in price.