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    Antimony price to inch up in Q4
    ----Interview with Zhao Junhua
    Vice President and General Manager
    Guangxi Wanshizhi Rare and Precious Metals Technology Co., Ltd.
    Established on January 17th, 2007, Guangxi Wanshizhi Rare and Precious Metals Technology Co., Ltd. is located in the Youjiang Smelting Plant, Napo town, Tianyang county, Guangxi province. The company mainly engages in the technical R&D and services of rare and precious metal materials, smelting, processing and sales of rare and precious metal and ores.

    Asian Metal: Hello, Mr. Zhao, thank you for accepting our interview. Please introduce your company and main business briefly.

    Mr. Zhao: Our company, Guangxi Wanshizhi Rare and Precious Metals Technology Co., Ltd.is located in Napo town, Tianyang county of Baise city, which was formerly established in 1986 with the name of Guangxi Tianyang Youjiang Smelter Co., Ltd. (renamed as Guangxi Tianyang Jinpeng Smelting Co., Ltd. later). In 2013, the company was totally held by Guangzhou Wanshizhi Investment Co., Ltd. and renamed as the current one from December 2018. The registered capital is RMB16 million (USD2.25 million) and the business scope covers technical research and service of rare metals; smelting, processing and sales of rare metals and minerals. After years of technical upgrade, the production facilities and technical level of our company are among the best in China's non-ferrous metal industry and the annual production capacity of antimony ingot reaches 5,000 tons.
    We insist on technical innovation and have built good relationship with Central South University, Guangxi University and so on. Our company has dozens of technical patents and much experience in recycling of co-existence rare metals, being one of the companies which master the technology of Sb-Au-Ag comprehensive recycling.

    Asian Metal: From early this year to late August, prices for antimony products decreased constantly. What are the reasons for the price decline in your opinion and how did your company cope with the situation?

    Mr. Zhao: Firstly, lots of raw materials poured into Chinese market from Russia, Central Asia, Australia and Tibet, China; besides, the supply of polymetallic ore which contains antimony also increased in China. Secondly, the demand in China and abroad didn't increase, leading to oversupply. Thirdly, overcapacity in domestic antimony ingot market lasted for a long period and pervious inventory wasn't used up. Fourthly, Fanya's antimony ingot stocks were auctioned till late August. Fifthly, the global economy was sluggish and downstream companies generally cut production or even closed.
    During the period, we took measures as follows: Firstly, we dampened smelting cost by technical reform to guarantee efficient production. Secondly, we kept trading without making speculation or reserves. The most important thing was that we made sales based on price trend prediction and ensured the supply for regular customers while looking for new customers.

    Asian Metal: Compared with other antimony companies, what are the competitive advantages of your company? Would you launch any new project or technology next year?

    Mr. Zhao: We mainly produce antimony ingot 99.90%min and 99.85%min. The "Ganzhuangshan" brand was well-recognized by new and regular customers with good quality. It was sold to Japan, South Korea, the US and European countries. We keep a good relationship with Central South University, Guangxi University and so on to gain technical innovation support on the research and recycling of Sb-Au-Ag, which would be our main business in the future.

    Asian Metal: After Fanya's antimony ingot inventory was auctioned, prices of the material began to rise, how do you think about the change?

    Mr. Zhao: Firstly, I think the price rise would be limited as there is still large inventory on the market. Secondly, the price rise was stimulated by the ease of market panic. Thirdly, antimony ingot prices were too low in the previous period; but the environmental protection was strict and the macro environment was unfavorable, so many mines were almost closed. Smelters scrambled for raw materials, resulting in a supply shortage, and antimony ingot prices increased accordingly. Fourthly, the market would see reasonable prices after a period of adjustment.

    Asian Metal: Do you think Chinese antimony industry has some problems? And how to solve the problems?

    Mr. Zhao: The first problem is overcapacity. As the price competition for homogenized products was fierce, the value of antimony products was underestimated. We should maximize the value by virtue of large reserve in China. Secondly, as the industrial chain of antimony industry was short, we should pay more attention to technical research and cost optimization to extend industrial chain and raise added value of products. In addition, the industrial layout and structure should be adjusted. Our company insists on technical innovation and tries to cut energy consumption and optimizes cost by improving environmental protection level.

    Asian Metal: What are the factors that influence antimony ingot spot prices?

    Mr. Zhao: Firstly, antimony ingot inventory wasn't released completely in China. Secondly, miners didn't resume production completely and restart operation slowly, so the price would trend up as long as raw material is in short supply. On outlook, Tibet Huayu, Russia-based Polyus Gold, Australia-based Mandalay Resources and several miners in South America would supply antimony, which would impact the prices greatly. Thirdly, as the environmental protection pressure was heavy, Chinese smelters had to make reform and some small plants had to shut down, leaving less capacity. However, some companies such as Hsikwang Shane Twinkling Star Co., Ltd., Yuguang Gold & Lead, Southern Smelting and SPMP would seize the opportunity to make changes. In addition, both Chinese and overseas plants continue to develop alternatives of some antimony products. Therefore, antimony prices might not rise in the long run.

    Asian Metal: How do you think about the price trend of antimony ingot in Q4 and how shall the plants react?

    Mr. Zhao: It has been one month after the summer break in Europe. Impacted by Fanya's antimony ingot auction, some large plants in China halted production for maintenance, and antimony ingot prices had been on the decline since early 2019; but as raw material supply is tight, prices in Q4 would be stable with a slight rise while the market recovery may lag behind. It is a perfect time to purchase antimony around the National Day holiday for short-term investment but a small financial problem might show up in mid-to-late December. As for plants, the better way is to improve smelting technology and product quality at the same time of controlling cost.

    Asian Metal: Thanks again for accepting our interview, wish your business thriving.

    Mr. Zhao: I appreciate the opportunity offered by Asian Metal. I also wish a bright future for Asian Metal.