U. S. Antimony Responds to Chinese Rare Earth Threats with Continued Expansion of Smelter Capacity

Thompson Falls, Montana. United States Antimony Corporation (“USAC”, NYSE American “UAMY”) reported continued expansion of its Madero, Coahuila, Mexican smelter capacity. This will include the installation of long rotary furnace (LRF) number 3. The Company has an additional 3 LRFs in inventory. Furnace recovery is in the 96%-98% range and the additional capacity is expected to handle production increases from the Company’s Wadley and Sierra Guadalupe Mines.

Photo of three furnaces.
Three long rotary furnaces at the Madero smelter in Coahuila, Mexico

Although antimony is not a rare earth, the U.S. Government considers it to be critical and strategic due its military applications. China currently controls 92% of the world supply of antimony products. Historically, China had relied on its domestic mines for ore, but its raw material supply has dwindled, and they are now importing 74.2% of their feed from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Australia, Honduras, Bolivia, Turkey, and other countries. While China no longer dominates the supply of antimony ore, the country continues to subsidize its antimony smelting industry in order to dominate the processing of the metal like it has done in several other rare earth elements.

If a trade war lingers with China or a direct military conflict with China or other nations begins, the U. S. is not prepared for a disruption of the antimony supply chain.

USAC is the only significant North American producer of strategic antimony products that include antimony metal, antimony oxide, sodium antimonate, and
antimony trisulfide:

  • Antimony metal is alloyed with lead as a hardener for bullets and for lead-acid deep-cycle industrial batteries for trucks and heavy equipment.
  • Antimony oxide is a flame retardant in textiles such as clothing, tents, canvas, carpeting and other industrial fabrics. It is extensively used as a flame retardant in most plastic goods such as electrical wire insulation, vehicle and aircraft interiors, molded plastic goods, and plastic cabinets.
  • Sodium antimonate is used as a fining agent or degasser for optical glass used in cameras, field glasses, microscopes and telescopes. It is also used as a flame retardant in high temperature styrene products.
  • Antimony trisulfide is used in primers for all center-fired ordnance and is a strategic material to the U. S. military. It is also used in various pyrotechnics for flares and other fireworks, for tracer bullets, and for friction brakes in aircraft, trucks and other vehicles.

In addition to USAC’s infrastructure of processing equipment, the Company owns or controls large reserves of antimony in North America which make USAC more attractive as a vertically integrated and strategic supplier.

Estimated sales for May 2019 were as follows:

ProductMay
Antimony pounds159,142
Zeolite short tons1,292

Inventories of Mexican antimony mine ore continue to grow. The average Rotterdam price for antimony metal during May 2019 was $6,972 per metric ton or $3.16 per pound.

The Puerto Blanco leach plant located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico is in the testing phase for the production of gold and silver from the Los Juarez mine.

CEO John Lawrence said “USAC is expanding production of antimony to shield some of the U.S. antimony market from any retaliatory Chinese rare earth policies. The Company will soon have three LRF furnaces in place. In addition, USAC is preparing to begin pilot production of its gold, silver, and antimony project at Los Juarez which will further augment its strong existing supplies of antimony in North America and will launch the Company into precious metals production.”