IM 2012 Round-ups: Antimony

By Laura Syrett
Published: Friday, 21 December 2012

Antimony exploration in 2012 was characterised by a worldwide drive to increase global production

Antimony exploration in 2012 was characterised by a worldwide drive to increase global production.

Beyond China - which controls around 90% of global antimony trioxide supply - efforts were made to scale-up mine output, notably in Bolivia, Russia, South Africa and Tajikistan, along with a number of European projects.

In June, UK-based antimony miner, Tri-Star Resources Plc, reported that its GšynŸk project in north-west Turkey had been classified as an exploration target with the potential to produce 350,000 tonnes stibnite (grading between 1-3% Sb).

The following month, United States Antimony Corporation (USAC) accelerated the development of its antimony, silver and gold property at Los Juarez in central Mexico, conducting various exploration and processing activities at the deposit during the second half of 2012.

After a lengthy waiting period, the Ministry for the Environment of the Slovakian Republic granted approval in October for Geo Tatra Ltd to begin geological work at the Pezinok-Pernek antimony deposit in Slovakia.

Exploration at Pezinok-Pernek is expected to commence in the first quarter 2013.

November saw the announcement that the Beaver Brook antimony mine in Newfoundland, Canada, was to be closed in January 2013 after its Chinese owners decided that the quality of ore made the mine unviable.

This was followed by news that Luiri Gold Ltd had let lapse an agreement to acquire an interest in the Zopkhito antimony project in Georgia, in favour of focusing on gold projects in Zambia.

Canadian mining firm Adroit Resources Inc. also experienced problems in November, when local residents in the area of Tuscany, where Adroit hopes to revive an historic antimony mining industry, sought legal action to oppose the development.

In December, Great Atlantic Resources Corp. signed an option agreement with a private prospector to acquire the Rawdon Hills antimony property in Nova Scotia, Canada, while Australia-listed Northwest Resources announced that it was progressing off-take discussions with selected parties with regard to its Blue Spec Shear Gold-Antimony Project in Western Australia. Due diligence work by the potential partners is planned to begin from January 2013.

Flame retardants phase-out antimony

The flame retardants market is a major consumer of antimony trioxide, where it is used as a synergist in halogenated flame retardants in plastics.

Global demand for flame retardant additives is expected to grow 6.1% annually, reaching 2.2m tonnes by 2014, according to a new study from US-based research firm, Freedonia Group.

However, the steady rise in the price of antimony - around a five-fold increase during the past decade - has led some consumers to seek alternatives in an effort to cut costs.

In April, Resin manufacturer AOC LLC announced that it had developed a new fire retardant, a halogen-free resin system that can be used in composites without the need for antimony trioxide, resulting in products that were up to 30% lighter and suitable for use in mass transportation.

Later, in November, US firm Applied Minerals Inc. revealed it had determined that dragonite (a basalt mineral) can replace 50-75% of the antimony trioxide in plastic, while retaining the required flame retardancy rating at a significantly lower cost.