MetalMiner welcomes guest contributor Sait Uysal. Sait, involved in the mining industry since 2007, worked as marketing manager for a local graphite miner in Turkey, as a country manager for Black Mountain Group, and is now the global marketing manager for Syrah Resources. Sait has been involved in antimony, lead, zinc, and manganese projects in Turkey and graphite projects in Turkey and other countries.
It began when organizations such as the European Union and British Geological Survey officially classified antimony as a strategic and critical raw material.
After that, investors in different parts of the world began getting interested in antimony, but the price fluctuations — and especially dropping antimony prices — create confusion in investors’ minds.
The important point to remember with the critical raw materials such as antimony is not today’s price levels or even the supply/demand balance, but the future development potential and scarcity of the resource.
Antimony is one of the most important critical raw materials, not because mining and beneficiation of antimony ore and producing antimony metal or trioxide is a complex process — it is well-known and easy technology.
But it is really hard to develop a new raw material source, as it is not distributed evenly to all parts of the world; and there is not too much known viable mineralization. It is a minor metal, not an abundant one.
On the other side of the coin, developments and needs for the energy industry, especially the need for energy storage media, increase the importance of some specific raw materials that are used in them.
Liquid metal battery technology, which is able to store huge amount of electricity (even capable of storing all energy needs of a big city for days) uses antimony as one of the main raw material inputs. These batteries are not small ones; it could be larger than the size of a house. This means that they require important and huge amounts of antimony.
Developing new antimony mines is the key for future supply, especially when we consider the current problems in producing countries, like nationalism. Turkey, with its low political and economical risks, and undiscovered existing resources, could be one alternative source.
To be continued later in Part Two.