China Increased its Reserves of Tungsten

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China Supply-Side Reforms Bring Silver Lining To Rare Metals

Gold Silver Reports — After a long downtrend, prices of some rare metals have been recovering since the beginning of the year.

Driving the change is China, the leading supplier, where government-led moves are underway to consolidate producers, slash output and build up reserves.

To address excessive production, Beijing has recently been promoting supply-side reforms. And while those efforts have struggled to make progress in the steel, coal and aluminum industries, they are gradually bearing fruit in the rare metals industry.

One metal the government is focusing on is antimony, which is used as a fire retardant. Last year, Beijing attempted to consolidate the country’s major eight antimony smelters into a single entity. However, the plan proved too complicated due to the large number of companies involved. An official at Nihon Seiko, a major Japanese supplier of antimony products, said negotiations are still underway to merge the smelters into four entities. Beijing is looking to cut output by half and thus shore up prices of the metal.

In addition to clamping down on operations to smuggle antimony out of the country via Vietnam, Beijing has also forced some producers in Henan Province and elsewhere to suspend operations on the grounds of environmental negligence.

These efforts appear to be working. In late April, the spot price of antimony in London topped $6,000 per ton for the first time since last October. Recently, it has reached the $6,400 to $6,700 range.