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Antimony

Facts on Antimony

Antimony

Antimony is a metal which occurs naturally in the earth's crust. The product is sold commercially in the form of grey, odourless pieces of metal in massive form and occasionally in powder form. Most of the antimony mined today comes from China, which supplies approximately 90% of the world's total. In 2010, the total global volume of antimony production was approximately 167,0001 metric tonnes.

Antimony Prices

The price of antimony has increased significantly over the past few years.
Antimony

(source 1, source 2, source 3)

Antimony Facts4

Antimony (atomic number 51 and atomic weight 121.76) is located in period 5 group 11 (or VA), of the periodic table of the elements and is, in appearance a lustrous tin-white metal. Although it is usually described as a metal, it possesses mixed metallic and non-metallic characteristics and is more properly described as a semi metal or metalloid. Unlike typical metals, it is not malleable, but hard and brittle and can be crushed to a powder. Compared with metals, antimony is a poor conductor of electricity and heat. (source)

Antimony Uses - Worldwide

World Antimony Uses in 20004

Antimony

US Antimony Uses in 20004

Antimony

Antimony worldwide is used primarily as a flame retardant and as an alloy in batteries, with a wide variety of other minor uses, including munitions, solder, ceramics and others.

Antimony Uses - USA

Antimony trioxide, which in 2010 represented approximately 75%(1) of reported antimony consumed in the US, is used in a wide variety of industrial applications, principally as a synergist with flame retardant chemicals and as a catalyst in the manufacture of polyester (PET)2.

Flame retardant uses3:

  • TVs, computers and household appliances
  • Industrial electrical installations, optical cables, main adapters and portable electronics
  • Plastic casings, resin circuit boards, switches and components
  • Upholstered furniture, insulation and decorative foams and building materials
  • Clothing, hospital linen and technical fire-resistant textiles
  • Seats, cables and plastic structures in motor vehicles

Antimony metal, which in 2010 represented approximately 15%1 of reported antimony consumed in the US, is a highly crystalline metalloid that gives metal its hardness and a much better and sharper cast.2

Other minor uses of antimony include2:

  • Semiconductors and recordable media
  • Welding and soldering products
  • Components of motor vehicles, machinery, mechanical appliances, electrical

Antimony Production & Reserves

World Antimony Production in 20104

Antimony

World Antimony Reserves by Country4

Antimony

According to the US Geological Survey, China dominates the world production of antimony. Estimated metric tons of antimony produces and in reserves by country for 2010 are illustrated in Table 1.

Antimony Market Factors6

Supply from China is declining due to the Chinese government:

  1. reducing the number of antimony miners and smelters;
  2. declaring antimony as a strategic mental; and
  3. imposing antimony production quotas since 2009.

In 2010, the USGS reported7 that two actions caused production reductions in China, the worlds leading antimony producer. In March, the Government stated it would not approve any new projects for antimony before June 30, 2011; also in March, the Government shut down about 100 antimony smelters in Chinas dominant antimony-producing region, an action aimed at closing illegal mines and curbing pollution.

Global Demand is increasing as the:

  1. Chinese economy continues to grow at approximately 10% per year; and
  2. Western world is increasing the requirements on fire-proofing of many articles.

Table 1: Antimony Production & Reserves

Country Production
(Metric Tons)
Percent Reserves
(Metric Tons)
Percent
China 150,000 89.8% 950,000 51.9%
Bolivia 4,980 3.0% 310,000 16.9%
Russia 3,000 1.8% 350,000 19.1%
South Africa 3,000 1.8% 21,000 1.1%
Tajikistan 2,000 1.2% 50,000 2.7%
Others 4,040 2.4% 150,000 8.2%
Total 167,020 100.0% 1,831,000 100.0%

(source 2011, source 2010)

Sources of US Antimony

Sources of US Antimony in 20104
(source)

Antimony

The US gets most of its antimony from China.

Supply Risk

The British Geological Survey's Risk List 2011, a supply risk index for chemical elements which are of economic value, indicated antimony as the element with the highest risk of supply disruption. The list is determined by a number of factors which might impact on supply. These include:

  • Scarcity
  • Production concentration
  • Reserve base distribution
  • Governance

In the Risk List, antimony was ranked in the highest category of supply risk, even higher than rare earth elements. (source)

  1. USGS 2010 Minerals Yearbook - Antimony
  2. International Antimony Association Factsheet on Antimony, May 2011
  3. International Antimony Association Factsheet on Antimony Trioxide, May 2011
  4. USGS Mineral Commodity Profiles - Antimony, 2004
  5. USGS 2010 Minerals Yearbook and Quarterly Updates - Antimony
  6. Northwest Resources Limited - Antimony Factsheet
  7. USGS 2011 Mineral Commodities Summary - Antimony