GLOBAL ANTIMONY WRAP: Prices in Europe, China correct lower; demand remains lacklustre

Antimony prices in Europe and China corrected lower last week as lacklustre demand weighed on the sentiment in the market, market participants said.

Metal Bulletin assessed MMTA Standard Grade II antimony in-warehouse Rotterdam prices at $8,300-8,550 per tonne on Friday September 1, down from $8,300-8,600 per tonne on Wednesday. Prices had also moved down on Wednesday August 30 from $8,300-8,650 per tonne.

Trioxide grade antimony prices in-warehouse Rotterdam were assessed at $8,350-8,650 per tonne on Friday, unchanged from Wednesday, but down from $8,350-8,700 per tonne from the previous week.

“Little business has been concluded but we are expecting buyers to come back to the market now,” a producer said.

“Prices are holding in the range for now but demand is still lacking,” a trader said. “Haven’t had much business done but the Chinese haven’t lowered their prices yet.”

The market continues to be tight with little spot material available in Rotterdam, traders noted, which continues to support prices for now.

“Once everyone is back in the market in September we will see which direction the market will go,” a second trader said.

Dull Chinese demand drags prices down
Dull demand from Chinese antimony downstream industries dragged the market down slightly over the past week.

Market sources reported very few deals of antimony metal and trioxide in the past two weeks and the closing prices for Chinese free market MMTA Standard Grade II antimony metal were at around 54,500 yuan ($8,321) per tonne.

Metal Bulletin assessed the Standard Grade II antimony metal at 54,500-55,500 yuan per tonne on August 30, down by 1.8% from one week ago, after the market stabilised at that level for about two weeks.

Suspension in blast furnaces since early April has made a stir in metal prices with supply in the antimony metal market remaining tight and only a small part of production restarted.

Blast furnaces are used to process antimony ore or low grade antimony concentrates into antimony oxide powder or high grade antimony concentrates to produce antimony metal.

But market participants came to realise that low operation rates in blast furnaces resulted in an accumulation of antimony ore supply, which will put pressure on the whole market.

In addition, feeble demand for antimony trioxide in downstream industries has triggered slow consumption of antimony metal and low buying interest from antimony trioxide producers when metal prices held at high levels.

“Recently, poor buying activities forced antimony metal suppliers to lower prices for deals,” an antimony trioxide producer said.

The source bought a batch of antimony metal 99.8% at around 54,000 yuan per tonne recently from a regular supplier.

“The supplier usually sells material to us at 500 yuan lower than spot market,” the source added.