SHENZHEN Customs has thwarted an attempt to smuggle around 6.8 tons of pure antimony worth more than 50 million yuan (US$8 million) out of China through Wenjindu Checkpoint, the administration announced Thursday.
A rare mineral, pure antimony is subject to restricted export due to its value to the nation. The mineral is mainly used to make glass, rubber and semiconductor devices.
The customs has detained three suspected of involvement in the smuggling.
The mineral was found Sept. 21 in an outbound container truck, which was claimed to be transporting advertising papers and cardboards.
A subsequent investigation found that a smuggling ring had been seeking buyers in countries like the United States, Japan, South Korea and Belgium. They then bought the mineral in Hunan and Guangdong provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, transporting it to Guangzhou first and then had it sent abroad by logistics companies in Shenzhen.
The ring had smuggled more than 115 tons of antimony since August this year.
The antimony reserves in the world amount to about 1.8 million tons. Most is located in China, Russia and South Africa, according to official statistics.
China is home to more than half of the reserves. Each ton of antimony costs up to 80,000 yuan in the domestic market.