What Is Antimony and Where Do I Use It?
- Antimony (Sb) is classified as a minor metal, growing in strategic importance.
- The main use for antimony is as a tri-oxide additive in the chemical and plastics industry as a “synthesizer” for flame retardant compounds, the use of which is driven by regulatory Health and Safety standards.
- Antimony metal is used as an alloy hardener as well as in metallurgical applications. Antimony metal is also the raw material of antimony oxide
- Antimony Trioxide is primarily used as a fire retardant in plastic insulations as well as electronic devices and household appliances. Sb2O3 can be used as a filling agent for various rubber, ceramic and fibre products and as a pigment in oil paints and as a catalytic agent in organic synthesis.
- Antimony acetate is primarily used as catalyst for poly-condensation of polyester. Antimony acetate improves the poly-condensation time, especially in continuous processes and significantly reduces impurity levels in PET resin.
- Antimony is used in the electronics industry to make some semiconductor devices, such as infrared detectors and diodes.
- It is alloyed with lead or other metals to improve their hardness and strength. A lead-antimony alloy is used in batteries. Other uses of antimony alloys include type metal (in printing presses), bullets and cable sheathing.
- Antimony compounds are used to make flame-retardant materials, paints, enamels, glass and pottery.
Where is Antimony produced?
- Supply is dominated by China, accounting for over 90% of world metal production over the past decade.
- China is the largest producer of Antimony metal, with 86% of antimony being minded in China; followed by 3% in Tajikistan and Bolivia; 2% in Russia and South Africa and 1% in Australia and Turkey.
- Several countries have restrictions concerning trade with antimony.
- According to the OECD´s inventory on export restrictions, China uses export taxes on antimony ores and concentrates and export quotas on antimony and products thereof as well as antimony oxides.
- Russia has an export tax on antimony waste and scrap and South Africa has a licensing agreement on scrap.
- There is a wide range of other countries imposing trade restrictions on antimony
- The European Union, the United States of America and Japanese economies are import dependent on the metal.
- In the next 10 years the Chinese are expected to move from a net exporter of Antimony to a net importer