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Antimony

December 19, 2017

Antimony is an important mineral commodity used widely in modern industrialized societies. The element imparts strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance to alloys that are used in many areas of industry, including in lead-acid storage batteries. Antimony’s leading use is as a fire retardant in safety equipment and in household goods, such as mattresses. The U.S. Government has considered antimony to be a critical mineral mainly because of its use in military applications. The great majority of the world’s antimony comes from China, and much of the remainder is shipped to China for smelting. Antimony resources are unevenly distributed around the world. China has the bulk of the world’s identified resources; other countries that have identified antimony resources include Bolivia, Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, and Turkey. Resources in the United States are located mainly in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada. The most significant antimony mineral deposits occur in geologic environments with a thick sequence of siliciclastic sedimentary rocks in areas with significant fault and fracture systems. The most common antimony ore mineral is stibnite (Sb2 S3 ), but more than 100 other minerals also contain antimony. The presence of antimony in surface waters and groundwaters results primarily from rock weathering, soil runoff, and anthropogenic sources. Global emissions of antimony to the atmosphere average 6,100 metric tons per year. Empirical data suggest that the acid-generating potential of antimony mine waste is low.