Sea Floor Raw Materials

A while back I discussed raw materials on the Pacific Sea Floor that Japan and USA officials were considering for rare earth materials. The technology and risks involved have stifled actual projects to retract those materials from the sea floor. First of all, it’s thousands of feet below sea level. That is a problem in itself. Also the technology to get the mud/sea floor is not perfected nor readily available. I say that because although we’ve laid telegraph lines 150 years ago across the ocean floor, we already accomplish limited drilling in the sea for diamonds and gold, it’s not remotely close to working on land. Obviously, where there is a will there is a way but these are major hurdles.

Low and behold the Japanese have made a discovery within it’s Exclusive Economic Zone near Minami-Torishima island in the Ogasawara Islands. This discovery holds roughly 220 times the annual usage of rare earth materials by the country. Not far from that outside of it’s EEZ there was also testing and a further discovery. At 5,600 meters below sea level it’s a challenge but as more people, companies, and countries get involved the faster the technology and efficiencies will improve.  India recently acknowledged building a ship for such purposes is also getting into the mix which is a welcome site.

Stay tuned for more developments.

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The Future of Antimony

Antimony prices have more than tripled since the beginning of 2009, as the supply from China has tightened. With China accounting for 90% of world production and growing domestic demand, consumers outside of China are increasingly concerned that the squeeze in antimony supply will continue and prices could rise further.

The outlook for future antimony supply from China is a real concern with experts predicting that Chinese antimony reserves could be exhausted in the next twenty five years. China’s efforts to control its dwindling reserve base and implement environmental controls have resulted in mining and export quotas being slashed.

Reserves of high-grade antimony ore in China’s Hunan province are reported to be close to exhaustion and many smelters in Guangxi province have closed due to pollution issues. As a result an increasing proportion of China’s antimony production is dependent on imported concentrates.

New production is being developed outside of China but much of this is still at the exploration and development stage and will not contribute to supply for some years to come.

Demand for antimony, particularly from its use in flame retardants, the production of PET bottles and batteries is strongly linked to consumer buying. As prosperity in China increases, the Chinese domestic market will increasingly need the antimony that China produces, leaving less for export.

As material supplies are squeezed and prices rise, more substitutes will be developed and recycling will play a greater role.

Despite the price rises new end-uses like the use of antimony in solar panels for generating green energy have been developed and promoted by the Chinese government.

Who knows what will happen in 25 years but right now if your needs are antimony, please contact us at http://www.ahpmat.com/antimony and we would be happy to help.