GLOBAL ANTIMONY WRAP: European prices edge lower; Chinese market quiet ahead of Golden Week

Antimony prices in Europe dipped lower last week as demand remained sluggish, while the Chinese antimony market calmed down due to the seven-day National holiday beginning on Sunday October 1.

Metal Bulletin assessed MMTA standard grade II antimony in-warehouse Rotterdam prices at $8,300-8,500 per tonne on Friday September 22, down 0.3% from Wednesday’s pricing session. 

Trioxide grade antimony prices in-warehouse Rotterdam were assessed at $8,350-8,600 per tonne last Friday, also down 0.3% from Wednesday. 

“There are still some reports of temporary issues with the Vietnamese border [the smuggling route between China and Vietnam might be closed] but it won’t have an impact on the market long term,” a trader in Europe said. “We’re not really seeing this as affecting prices at all. The market has been so slow for the past few weeks.”

The upcoming national holiday in China might also further slow down the market, market participants noted. A seven-day national holiday will begin on October 1.

“I haven’t seen this much stability in the market for a long time,” a second Europe-based trader said. “The market might go up or down by $50 but there is no volatility at all.”

“Chinese producers are not lowering their prices and instead holding them pretty firm, but demand in Europe is still pretty poor. Big consumers are still not buying. Also trioxide demand in China is pretty low,” a third European trader said.

“I’ve tried bidding below $8,300 but there is still resistance at that level. It’s still not possible to get anything below that level for prompt material in Rotterdam but the higher numbers have disappeared from the market for now,” the third trader added.

In the Chinese antimony market, prices declined further as buying activities were thin in the physical market before Golden Week starts on Sunday.

Metal Bulletin’s assessment for Chinese MMTA Standard Grade II antimony prices delivered duty paid was 53,000-54,000 yuan ($8,116-8,270) per tonne on Wednesday September 20, down by 0.9% week on week. 

“Consumers are expecting lower prices and a clear market direction amid the rumour that more smelters in Lengshuijiang area will restart in late September or early October, but it seems only one smelter –Yanshan Smelter – can really resume production before the end of October, and the other halted privately-owned smelters in Lengshuijiang area [of Hunan province] may start later in the fourth quarter. There is no timeline for smelters in Hechi City [of Guangxi province],” a Chinese source told Metal Bulletin at the Lengshuijiang antimony conference on September 20.

Operation rates at Chinese antimony smelters are still low, but market sentiment was pushed lower in all commodity markets as market participants took profits after prices jumped earlier.

“However, I do not expect antimony prices to fall a lot, because the price of the 100 truckloads of antimony concentrates 45% purchased by smelters in Lengshuijiang area recently was 41,000 yuan per tonne, meaning the cost for antimony metal will be around 51,000 yuan per tonne after adding processing costs,” a second market source based in China said. 

“No doubt that the market before Chinese national holiday will be quiet as market participants are waiting for a definite market signal up or down after the holiday ends,” a third Chinese source said.