The most commonly mined antimony mineral is stibnite (Sb2S3), a silvery-gray sulphide mineral with a specific gravity of 4.6. Antimony is a key mineral commodity used widely in industrialised societies.
Antimony’s leading uses are in flame retardants (as antimony oxide). Major markets for antimony-based flame retardants include electronics, plastics, fabrics used in children’s clothing, aircraft and car seat covers and bedding). The major use metallurgical used of antimony is primarily in lead-acid batteries which commonly contain 4-6% antimony alloyed with lead.
Estimate of global antimony demand by end-user segment
Source: USGS and Roskill.
Global production of antimony in 2018 was estimated to be 140,000 tonnes and China continued to be the leading global antimony producer, accounting for more than 70% of global mine production. In 2016 and 2017, many large-scale producers reduced production and many small-scale producers closed in response to price declines in China and stricter environmental standards from Provincial and national governments. In 2018, producers in Hunan, Yunnan, and Guizhou Provinces maintained a steady production rate after their smelters completed upgrades to meet the environmental standards. In the next several years, antimony mining in the Guizhou Province was expected to be limited as a part of the Chinese Government’s mining industry reforms aiming to reduce mine overproduction.
Estimate of global antimony production by country
Source: USGS and Roskill.
Antimony has been identified as a critical raw material by the European Union (EU), the United States and also by the United Kingdom and Japan, who have all published reports ranking raw materials on key criteria including supply risk and economic importance. The presence of China as the dominant producer and its key importance, particularly in military applications.
Antimony has been grouped with a number of higher profile critical raw materials (including light rare earth elements (LREEs), heavy rare earth elements (HREEs), tungsten, cobalt and niobium).
European Union Critical Raw Materials (CRM) 2017
For more information on the Critical Raw Materials, please refer to the following sources:
European Union Critical Raw Materials
Chapter C of Critical mineral resources of the United States – Economic and environmental geology and prospects for future supply (USGS)
Antimony prices peaked in 2011, and then fell to a low in early 2016, and have since begun to recover.
Source: United States Antimony Corporation
Metal Bulletin Average Monthly Metal Price per Metric Tonne CIF USA