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    International antimony ingot prices still have room to rise in Q4
    ----Interview with Daijun Qin
    Chairman of the Board
    Guangning Non-ferrous Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd.
    Both of Guangning Non-ferrous Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. and Asia-Europe Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. are holding subsidiaries of Hong Kong Jielida Group. Founded in 2007 with a history of over 10 years, Guangning Non-ferrous Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. is a comprehensive polymetallic smelter mainly engaging in recycling of antimony, lead and precious metals such as gold and silver and usually sells its antimony products to Europe, USA, Japan and South Korea.

    Asian Metal: Thank you for accepting our interview. Please make a brief instruction to your company, including your main business.

    Mr. Qin: Both of Guangning Non-ferrous Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. and Asia-Europe Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. are holding subsidiaries of HongKong Jielida Group. Founded in 2007 with a history of over 10 years, Guangning Non-ferrous Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. is a comprehensive polymetallic smelter mainly engaging in recycling of antimony, lead and precious metals such as goldand silver. The company owns two production lines and can handle 3,000-4,000t of raw materials per month, including 1,600-1,800t of antimony and 2,000-2,200t of lead. The company mainly produces antimony ingot 99.8%min and 99.65%min of national standard and its annual output of antimony ingot, crude lead 92%-98%min and silver stand at about 7,000t, 20,000t and 20t at present respectively. Asia-Europe Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd., which focuses on deep processing of metals, intends to expand its smelting project, aiming to process some antimony ingot produced by Guangning Non-ferrous Metals(Vietnam) Co., Ltd. into antimony trioxide 99.5%-99.8%min with a designed processing capacity of 10,000tpy, process crude lead into lead ingot 99.995%min by electrolysis and extract gold, silver and other precious metals during this process. The expanded project is under building now and will go into production in 2022 after the building is completed.

    Asian Metal: Would you please introduce to us your biggest advantage and competiveness in exporting antimony products?

    Mr.Qin: As a foreign-funded company in Vietnam mainly exporting products to Europe, USA, Japan and South Korea and a company conducting processing trade, our biggest advantage is to enjoy the tax incentives of Vietnam and accordingly we don't need to pay 13% value-added tax and 5% export duty. Our smelting cost is slightly higher than that of Chinese smelters caused by the fact that 90% of coal and other supplementary materials used in our smelting are imported from China; meanwhile, with all our management and technical personnel coming from China, our salary cost is also relatively higher. However, generally speaking, our total cost is about 5% lower than that of Chinese smelters as we don't need to pay 13% value-added tax when we import raw materials. We also have other advantages. For instance, depending on mature smelting skills brought by our technical personnel introduced from China, we are able to ensure the quality of our products; we can also extend the deep-processing chain of our products and accordingly better meet the demand of our clients if our antimony trioxide deep-processing project goes into smooth production next year.

    Asian Metal: In recent years, the antimony industry in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Burma developed rapidly. Please briefly analyze the current development status of the antimony industry chain in Southeast Asia and the main problems there.

    Mr. Qin: Indeed, some plants were established in Vietnam and Burma for deep-processing in recent years; however, of all the Southeast Asian countries, only Burma can produce antimony ores in large volumes currently and the antimony ore output in other countries in this region including Vietnam is minimal. For example, we, a company that has to import all raw materials, now mainly import antimony ores from Russia, Burma, South America, Africa and other countries and regions. Burma's antimony ore exports declined in recent years and the main reasons were as follow. Firstly, as Burma saw increasing newly-built smelters, 80-90% Burmese antimony ores were supplied to local smelters in recent years, which stimulated the exports to decline gradually. Secondly, a serious problem of gradual depletion of antimony ore resource is seen in Southeast Asia and even in the world currently. In fact, considering the downward output trend in Russia since H2 2020 and unstable production, low quality, low grade and other problems in South America and Africa, we expect that the Southeast Asia would also be faced with the supply shortage of antimony raw materials. Thirdly, some Chinese companies established plants in Southeast Asia in recent years, but now it's increasingly strict for governments there to approve the establishment of high-polluting projects, especially in Vietnam. But we have to acknowledge that Vietnam is the only Southeast Asian country suitable for the establishment of smelting plants, while other countries in this region do not yet have the conditions for this due to limited power supply and high transportation cost as a result of the unfavorable geographical position far away from ports.

    Asian Metal: What do you think of the tight supply of antimony resources worldwide in recent years and how do you effectively deal with this problem as an antimony smelting company?

    Mr. Qin: It is true that the supply of antimony resources became tight in recent years. As an antimony smelter in Vietnam, we are also facing this problem now and are actively looking for some antimony-containing materials, especially some materials that are restricted from entering China (Solid materials can still be imported in Vietnam). At the same time, we are maximizing the comprehensive utilization rate and comprehensive recovery of antimony resources.

    Asian Metal: Which countries are the main export destinations of your company's antimony products and could you please analyze the current market situation of antimony products in these countries?

    Mr. Qin: We mainly export our antimony ingot, a kind of intermediate product mainly consumed by downstream antimony trioxide plants, to Switzerland, Belgium, France, and other European countries at present and just export a small volume of the material to Japan and South Korea where customers mainly import antimony trioxide. The demand for antimony ingot is stable currently in Europe where a lot of antimony trioxide plants are established. We learned from several European customers that they each have an annual demand of around 3,000t of antimony ingot and the total antimony ingot consumption in Europe could reach 20,000-30,000t per year. As the spread of COVID-19 is gradually controlled in several countries, the overall antimony ingot demand in Europe does not drop now and is expected to keep strong in the future after the pandemic is over.

    Asian Metal: As we know that the international freight has hovered at a high level since the COVID-19 started spreading worldwide, so what's your opinion about the impacts of the international shipping crisis on the export of antimony products?

    Mr. Qin: Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 in the fourth quarter of 2020, the international shipping freight, especially the freight related to European and American routes has soared. By now, the freight of European routes has increased by more than 5 times compared with the past, and that of American routes has risen by as high as 7 times. In terms of cost, the higher shipping freight has virtually increased the operating cost of producers. Furthermore, the supply shortage of containers has made the products backlogged rather than be shipped in time, stimulating producers to suffer problems such as lower capital turnover. To some extent, higher international freight has led to a reduction in the willingness of end users to refill stocks and prevented export. These are the impacts brought by the international shipping crisis on the export market. We believe that the problem of high ocean freight would continue to last for a period of time dragged by the spread of COVID-19 worldwide.

    Asian Metal: How do you think of the antimony ingot demand and price trend in Europe and America in Q4?

    Mr. Qin: As the spread of COVID-19 in various countries has been controlled effectively, the operating rate and employment rate in many regions such as Europe and the United States have gradually increased. Moreover, inflation has stimulated the market economy to turn better and national political and economic policies have encouraged the unemployed to find jobs actively. Because of the two factors, the international antimony ingot market has generally witnessed growth of demand amid stability. We sold about 3,200t of antimony ingot in the first five months of 2021, equivalent to over 60% of our production task this year; thus, we only need to produce about 2,000t of the material in the second half of this year. Besides, as the global supply shortage of antimony resources can't be eased effectively in short term, we expect that the demand of antimony ingot in the international market would be tight overall in Q4 and there still would be room for prices to go up as demand is released gradually.

    Asian Metal: Please share with us the development plan of your company.

    Mr. Qin: As for our development plan, we will still keep antimony products as our main products in short term. We will use the main smelting project under construction by Asia-Europe Metals (Vietnam) Co., Ltd. to process part of our antimony ingot into antimony trioxide, so as to win some downstream market shares. We also intend to process more other metals, planning to become a comprehensive polymetallic smelting company in Vietnam with a certain scale in the next three to five years. In addition, we will strengthen cooperation with domestic and foreign counterparts, and strive to occupy a place in Vietnam's non-ferrous metal smelting industry.

    Asian Metal: Thanks again for accepting the interview of us and wish yourcompany a better future!

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