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Antimony,  51Sb
Appearancesilvery lustrous gray
Standard atomic weight Ar, std(Sb)121.760(1) [1]
Antimony in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson


Atomic number (Z)51
Group group 15 (pnictogens)
Period period 5
Block p-block
Element category   Metalloid
Electron configuration [ Kr ] 4d10 5s2 5p3
Electrons per shell
2, 8, 18, 18, 5
Physical properties
Phase at  STP solid
Melting point 903.78  K (630.63 °C,1167.13 °F)
Boiling point 1908 K(1635 °C,2975 °F)
Density (near r.t.)6.697 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)6.53 g/cm3
Heat of fusion 19.79  kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization 193.43 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity 25.23 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa)1101001 k10 k100 k
at T (K)8078761011121914911858
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −3, −2, −1, +1, +2, +3, +4, +5 (an  amphoteric oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 2.05
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 834 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1594.9 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2440 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Atomic radius empirical:140  pm
Covalent radius 139±5 pm
Van der Waals radius 206 pm
Color lines in a spectral range Antimony spectrum visible.png
Color lines in a spectral range
Spectral lines of antimony
Other properties
Natural occurrence primordial
Crystal structure rhombohedral
Speed of sound thin rod3420 m/s(at 20 °C)
Thermal expansion 11 µm/(m·K)(at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity 24.4 W/(m·K)
Electrical resistivity 417 nΩ·m(at 20 °C)
Magnetic ordering diamagnetic [2]
Magnetic susceptibility −99.0·10−6 cm3/mol [3]
Young's modulus 55 GPa
Shear modulus 20 GPa
Bulk modulus 42 GPa
Mohs hardness 3.0
Brinell hardness 294–384 MPa
CAS Number 7440-36-0
Discovery before 800 CE
Main isotopes of antimony
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
121Sb57.21% stable
125Sb syn 2.7582 y β 125Te
| references

Antimony is a chemical element with the symbol  Sb (from Latin : stibium) and atomic number  51. A lustrous gray metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite (Sb2S3). Antimony compounds have been known since ancient times and were powdered for use as medicine and cosmetics, often known by the Arabic name, kohl. [4] Metallic antimony was also known, but it was erroneously identified as lead upon its discovery. The earliest known description of the metal in the West was written in 1540 by Vannoccio Biringuccio.

Chemical element a species of atoms having the same number of protons in the atomic nucleus

A chemical element is a species of atom having the same number of protons in their atomic nuclei. For example, the atomic number of oxygen is 8, so the element oxygen consists of all atoms which have 8 protons.

Symbol (chemistry) an arbitrary or conventional sign used in chemical science to represent a chemical element

In chemistry, a symbol is an abbreviation for a chemical element. Symbols for chemical elements normally consist of one or two letters from the Latin alphabet and are written with the first letter capitalised.

Atomic number number of protons found in the nucleus of an atom

The atomic number or proton number of a chemical element is the number of protons found in the nucleus of every atom of that element. The atomic number uniquely identifies a chemical element. It is identical to the charge number of the nucleus. In an uncharged atom, the atomic number is also equal to the number of electrons.


For some time, China has been the largest producer of antimony and its compounds, with most production coming from the Xikuangshan Mine in Hunan. The industrial methods for refining antimony are roasting and reduction with carbon or direct reduction of stibnite with iron.

Xikuangshan mine (simplified Chinese: 锡矿山; traditional Chinese: 錫礦山; pinyin: Xīkuàngshān) in Lengshuijiang, Hunan, China, contains the world's largest deposit of antimony. It is unique in that there is a large deposit of stibnite (Sb2S3) in a layer of Devonian limestone. There are three mineral beds which are between 2.5 and 8 m thick which are folded in an anticline that plunges to the south-west. The total mineralised area of the mine has a surface extent of 14 km2. There are two different units at the mine, the northern one produces mixed oxide and sulfide such as stibiconite (Sb3O6(OH)) and the southern one produces stibnite. Ore is concentrated and refined on site in a refinery with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes of antimony per year.

Hunan Province

Hunan is a landlocked province in Central China. Located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze watershed, it borders the province-level divisions of Hubei to the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong and Guangxi to the south, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. Its capital and largest city is Changsha, which also abuts the Xiang River. With a population of just over 67 million as of 2014 residing in an area of approximately 210,000 km2 (81,000 sq mi), it is China's 7th most populous province by population and the 10th most extensive province by area.

Carbothermic reactions involve the reduction of substances, often metal oxides, using carbon as the reducing agent. These chemical reactions are usually conducted at temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius. Such processes are applied for production of the elemental forms of many elements. Carbothermic reactions are not useful for some metal oxides, such as those of sodium and potassium. The ability of metals to participate in carbothermic reactions can be predicted from Ellingham diagrams.

The largest applications for metallic antimony are an alloy with lead and tin and the lead antimony plates in lead–acid batteries. Alloys of lead and tin with antimony have improved properties for solders, bullets, and plain bearings. Antimony compounds are prominent additives for chlorine and bromine-containing fire retardants found in many commercial and domestic products. An emerging application is the use of antimony in microelectronics.

Lead Chemical element with atomic number 82

Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials. Lead is soft and malleable, and also has a relatively low melting point. When freshly cut, lead is silvery with a hint of blue; it tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air. Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and three of its isotopes are endpoints of major nuclear decay chains of heavier elements.

Tin Chemical element with atomic number 50

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. Tin is a silvery metal that characteristically has a faint yellow hue. Tin, like indium, is soft enough to be cut without much force. When a bar of tin is bent, the so-called tin cry can be heard as a result of sliding tin crystals reforming; this trait is shared by indium, cadmium, and frozen mercury. Pure tin after solidifying keeps a mirror-like appearance similar to most metals. However, in most tin alloys (such as pewter) the metal solidifies with a dull gray color. Tin is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table of elements. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains stannic oxide, SnO2. Tin shows a chemical similarity to both of its neighbors in group 14, germanium and lead, and has two main oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element on Earth and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table, thanks to its magic number of protons. It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal, but at low temperatures, it transforms into the less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. Metallic tin does not easily oxidize in air.

Lead–acid battery rechargeable battery type often used in cars

The lead–acid battery was invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté and is the earliest, yet still most widely used, type of rechargeable battery. Despite having a very low energy-to-weight ratio and a low energy-to-volume ratio, its ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells have a relatively large power-to-weight ratio. These features, along with their low cost, make them attractive for use in motor vehicles to provide the high current required by automobile starter motors.



A vial containing the black allotrope of antimony Antimon.PNG
A vial containing the black allotrope of antimony
Native antimony with oxidation products Antimony massive.jpg
Native antimony with oxidation products
Crystal structure common to Sb, AsSb and gray As SbAs lattice.png
Crystal structure common to Sb, AsSb and gray As

Antimony is a member of group 15 of the periodic table, one of the elements called pnictogens, and has an electronegativity of 2.05. In accordance with periodic trends, it is more electronegative than tin or bismuth, and less electronegative than tellurium or arsenic. Antimony is stable in air at room temperature, but reacts with oxygen if heated to produce antimony trioxide, Sb2O3. [5] :758

Group (periodic table) column of elements in the periodic table of the chemical elements

In chemistry, a group is a column of elements in the periodic table of the chemical elements. There are 18 numbered groups in the periodic table; the f-block columns are not numbered. The elements in a group have similar physical or chemical characteristics of the outermost electron shells of their atoms, because most chemical properties are dominated by the orbital location of the outermost electron.

Pnictogen Group 15 elements of the periodic table with valency 5

A pnictogen is one of the chemical elements in group 15 of the periodic table. This group is also known as the nitrogen family. It consists of the elements nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), arsenic (As), antimony (Sb), bismuth (Bi), and perhaps the chemically uncharacterized synthetic element moscovium (Mc).

Electronegativity, symbol χ, is a chemical property that describes the tendency of an atom to attract a shared pair of electrons towards itself. An atom's electronegativity is affected by both its atomic number and the distance at which its valence electrons reside from the charged nucleus. The higher the associated electronegativity number, the more an atom or a substituent group attracts electrons towards itself.

Antimony is a silvery, lustrous gray metalloid with a Mohs scale hardness of 3, which is too soft to make hard objects; coins of antimony were issued in China's Guizhou province in 1931 but the durability was poor and the minting was soon discontinued. [6] Antimony is resistant to attack by acids.

Guizhou Province

Guizhou, is a landlocked province in Southwest China. Its capital and largest city is Guiyang, in the central part of the province. Guizhou borders the autonomous region of Guangxi to the south, Yunnan to the west, Sichuan to the northwest, the municipality of Chongqing to the north, and Hunan to the east. The population of Guizhou stands at 34 million, ranking 19th among the provinces in China.

Four allotropes of antimony are known: a stable metallic form and three metastable forms (explosive, black and yellow). Elemental antimony is a brittle, silver-white shiny metalloid. When slowly cooled, molten antimony crystallizes in a trigonal cell, isomorphic with the gray allotrope of arsenic. A rare explosive form of antimony can be formed from the electrolysis of antimony trichloride. When scratched with a sharp implement, an exothermic reaction occurs and white fumes are given off as metallic antimony forms; when rubbed with a pestle in a mortar, a strong detonation occurs. Black antimony is formed upon rapid cooling of antimony vapor. It has the same crystal structure as red phosphorus and black arsenic, it oxidizes in air and may ignite spontaneously. At 100 °C, it gradually transforms into the stable form. The yellow allotrope of antimony is the most unstable. It has only been generated by oxidation of stibine (SbH3) at −90 °C. Above this temperature and in ambient light, this metastable allotrope transforms into the more stable black allotrope. [7] [8] [9]

Allotropy Property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms

Allotropy or allotropism is the property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms, in the same physical state, known as allotropes of the elements. Allotropes are different structural modifications of an element; the atoms of the element are bonded together in a different manner. For example, the allotropes of carbon include diamond, graphite, graphene, and fullerenes. The term allotropy is used for elements only, not for compounds. The more general term, used for any crystalline material, is polymorphism. Allotropy refers only to different forms of an element within the same phase ; differences in these states alone would not constitute examples of allotropy.

Arsenic Chemical element with atomic number 33

Arsenic is a chemical element with the symbol As and atomic number 33. Arsenic occurs in many minerals, usually in combination with sulfur and metals, but also as a pure elemental crystal. Arsenic is a metalloid. It has various allotropes, but only the gray form, which has a metallic appearance, is important to industry.

Antimony trichloride chemical compound

Antimony trichloride is the chemical compound with the formula SbCl3. The soft colorless solid with a pungent odor was known to the alchemists as butter of antimony.

Elemental antimony adopts a layered structure (space group R3m No. 166) in which layers consist of fused, ruffled, six-membered rings. The nearest and next-nearest neighbors form an irregular octahedral complex, with the three atoms in each double layer slightly closer than the three atoms in the next. This relatively close packing leads to a high density of 6.697 g/cm3, but the weak bonding between the layers leads to the low hardness and brittleness of antimony. [5] :758


Antimony has two stable isotopes: 121Sb with a natural abundance of 57.36% and 123Sb with a natural abundance of 42.64%. It also has 35 radioisotopes, of which the longest-lived is 125Sb with a half-life of 2.75 years. In addition, 29 metastable states have been characterized. The most stable of these is 120m1Sb with a half-life of 5.76 days. Isotopes that are lighter than the stable 123Sb tend to decay by β+ decay, and those that are heavier tend to decay by β decay, with some exceptions. [10]


Stibnite,China CM29287 Carnegie Museum of Natural History specimen on display in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems Stibnite.jpg
Stibnite,China CM29287 Carnegie Museum of Natural History specimen on display in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

The abundance of antimony in the Earth's crust is estimated to be 0.2 to 0.5 parts per million, comparable to thallium at 0.5 parts per million and silver at 0.07 ppm. [11] Even though this element is not abundant, it is found in more than 100 mineral species. Antimony is sometimes found natively (e.g. on Antimony Peak), but more frequently it is found in the sulfide stibnite (Sb2S3) which is the predominant ore mineral. [11]


Antimony compounds are often classified according to their oxidation state: Sb(III) and Sb(V). [12] The +5 oxidation state is more stable.

Oxides and hydroxides

Antimony trioxide is formed when antimony is burnt in air. [13] In the gas phase, the molecule of the compound is Sb
, but it polymerizes upon condensing. [5] Antimony pentoxide (Sb
) can be formed only by oxidation with concentrated nitric acid. [14] Antimony also forms a mixed-valence oxide, antimony tetroxide (Sb
), which features both Sb(III) and Sb(V). [14] Unlike oxides of phosphorus and arsenic, these oxides are amphoteric, do not form well-defined oxoacids, and react with acids to form antimony salts.

Antimonous acid Sb(OH)
is unknown, but the conjugate base sodium antimonite ([Na
) forms upon fusing sodium oxide and Sb
. [5] :763 Transition metal antimonites are also known. [15] :122 Antimonic acid exists only as the hydrate HSb(OH)
, forming salts as the antimonate anion Sb(OH)
. When a solution containing this anion is dehydrated, the precipitate contains mixed oxides. [15] :143

Many antimony ores are sulfides, including stibnite (Sb
), pyrargyrite (Ag
), zinkenite, jamesonite, and boulangerite. [5] :757 Antimony pentasulfide is non-stoichiometric and features antimony in the +3 oxidation state and S-S bonds. [16] Several thioantimonides are known, such as [Sb
and [Sb
. [17]


Antimony forms two series of halides: SbX
and SbX
. The trihalides SbF
, SbCl
, SbBr
, and SbI
are all molecular compounds having trigonal pyramidal molecular geometry.

The trifluoride SbF
is prepared by the reaction of Sb
with HF: [5] :761–762

+ 6 HF → 2 SbF
+ 3 H

It is Lewis acidic and readily accepts fluoride ions to form the complex anions SbF
and SbF2−
. Molten SbF
is a weak electrical conductor. The trichloride SbCl
is prepared by dissolving Sb
in hydrochloric acid:

+ 6 HCl → 2 SbCl
+ 3 H
Structure of gaseous SbF5 Antimony-pentafluoride-monomer-3D-balls.png
Structure of gaseous SbF5

The pentahalides SbF
and SbCl
have trigonal bipyramidal molecular geometry in the gas phase, but in the liquid phase, SbF
is polymeric, whereas SbCl
is monomeric. [5] :761 SbF
is a powerful Lewis acid used to make the superacid fluoroantimonic acid ("H2SbF7").

Oxyhalides are more common for antimony than for arsenic and phosphorus. Antimony trioxide dissolves in concentrated acid to form oxoantimonyl compounds such as SbOCl and (SbO)
. [5] :764

Antimonides, hydrides, and organoantimony compounds

Compounds in this class generally are described as derivatives of Sb3−. Antimony forms antimonides with metals, such as indium antimonide (InSb) and silver antimonide (Ag
). [5] :760 The alkali metal and zinc antimonides, such as Na3Sb and Zn3Sb2, are more reactive. Treating these antimonides with acid produces the highly unstable gas stibine, SbH
: [18]

+ 3 H+

Stibine can also be produced by treating Sb3+
salts with hydride reagents such as sodium borohydride.[ citation needed ] Stibine decomposes spontaneously at room temperature. Because stibine has a positive heat of formation, it is thermodynamically unstable and thus antimony does not react with hydrogen directly. [12]

Organoantimony compounds are typically prepared by alkylation of antimony halides with Grignard reagents. [19] A large variety of compounds are known with both Sb(III) and Sb(V) centers, including mixed chloro-organic derivatives, anions, and cations. Examples include Sb(C6H5)3 (triphenylstibine), Sb2(C6H5)4 (with an Sb-Sb bond), and cyclic [Sb(C6H5)]n. Pentacoordinated organoantimony compounds are common, examples being Sb(C6H5)5 and several related halides.


One of the alchemical symbols for antimony Antimony-symbol.svg
One of the alchemical symbols for antimony

Antimony(III) sulfide, Sb2S3, was recognized in predynastic Egypt as an eye cosmetic (kohl) as early as about 3100 BC, when the cosmetic palette was invented. [20]

An artifact, said to be part of a vase, made of antimony dating to about 3000 BC was found at Telloh, Chaldea (part of present-day Iraq), and a copper object plated with antimony dating between 2500 BC and 2200 BC has been found in Egypt. [7] Austen, at a lecture by Herbert Gladstone in 1892 [21] commented that "we only know of antimony at the present day as a highly brittle and crystalline metal, which could hardly be fashioned into a useful vase, and therefore this remarkable 'find' (artifact mentioned above) must represent the lost art of rendering antimony malleable." [21]

Moorey was unconvinced the artifact was indeed a vase, mentioning that Selimkhanov, after his analysis of the Tello object (published in 1975), "attempted to relate the metal to Transcaucasian natural antimony" (i.e. native metal) and that "the antimony objects from Transcaucasia are all small personal ornaments." [21] This weakens the evidence for a lost art "of rendering antimony malleable." [21]

The Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described several ways of preparing antimony sulfide for medical purposes in his treatise Natural History. [22] Pliny the Elder also made a distinction between "male" and "female" forms of antimony; the male form is probably the sulfide, while the female form, which is superior, heavier, and less friable, has been suspected to be native metallic antimony. [23]

The Greek naturalist Pedanius Dioscorides mentioned that antimony sulfide could be roasted by heating by a current of air. It is thought that this produced metallic antimony. [22]

The Italian metallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio described a procedure to isolate antimony. Specola, medaglione di vannoccio biringucci.JPG
The Italian metallurgist Vannoccio Biringuccio described a procedure to isolate antimony.

The intentional isolation of antimony is described by Jabir ibn Hayyan before 815 AD. [24] A description of a procedure for isolating antimony is later given in the 1540 book De la pirotechnia by Vannoccio Biringuccio, [25] predating the more famous 1556 book by Agricola, De re metallica . In this context Agricola has been often incorrectly credited with the discovery of metallic antimony. The book Currus Triumphalis Antimonii (The Triumphal Chariot of Antimony), describing the preparation of metallic antimony, was published in Germany in 1604. It was purported to be written by a Benedictine monk, writing under the name Basilius Valentinus in the 15th century; if it were authentic, which it is not, it would predate Biringuccio. [note 1] [8] [27] [28]

The metal antimony was known to German chemist Andreas Libavius in 1615 who obtained it by adding iron to a molten mixture of antimony sulfide, salt and potassium tartrate. This procedure produced antimony with a crystalline or starred surface. [22]

With the advent of challenges to phlogiston theory, it was recognized that antimony is an element forming sulfides, oxides, and other compounds, as do other metals. [22]

The first discovery of naturally occurring pure antimony in the Earth's crust was described by the Swedish scientist and local mine district engineer Anton von Swab in 1783; the type-sample was collected from the Sala Silver Mine in the Bergslagen mining district of Sala, Västmanland, Sweden. [29] [30]


The medieval Latin form, from which the modern languages and late Byzantine Greek take their names for antimony, is antimonium. The origin of this is uncertain; all suggestions have some difficulty either of form or interpretation. The popular etymology, from ἀντίμοναχός anti-monachos or French antimoine, still has adherents; this would mean "monk-killer", and is explained by many early alchemists being monks, and antimony being poisonous. [31]

Another popular etymology is the hypothetical Greek word ἀντίμόνος antimonos, "against aloneness", explained as "not found as metal", or "not found unalloyed". [7] [32] Lippmann conjectured a hypothetical Greek word ανθήμόνιον anthemonion, which would mean "floret", and cites several examples of related Greek words (but not that one) which describe chemical or biological efflorescence. [33]

The early uses of antimonium include the translations, in 1050–1100, by Constantine the African of Arabic medical treatises. [34] Several authorities believe antimonium is a scribal corruption of some Arabic form; Meyerhof derives it from ithmid; [35] other possibilities include athimar, the Arabic name of the metalloid, and a hypothetical as-stimmi, derived from or parallel to the Greek. [36] [37]

The standard chemical symbol for antimony (Sb) is credited to Jöns Jakob Berzelius, who derived the abbreviation from stibium. [38]

The ancient words for antimony mostly have, as their chief meaning, kohl, the sulfide of antimony.

The Egyptians called antimony mśdmt; [39] [40] in hieroglyphs, the vowels are uncertain, but the Coptic form of the word is ⲥⲧⲏⲙ (stēm). The Greek word, στίμμι stimmi, is probably a loan word from Arabic or from Egyptian stm [31]


and is used by Attic tragic poets of the 5th century BC. Later Greeks also used στἰβι stibi, as did Celsus and Pliny, writing in Latin, in the first century AD. Pliny also gives the names stimi[ sic ], larbaris, alabaster, and the "very common" platyophthalmos, "wide-eye" (from the effect of the cosmetic). Later Latin authors adapted the word to Latin as stibium. The Arabic word for the substance, as opposed to the cosmetic, can appear as إثمد ithmid, athmoud, othmod, or uthmod. Littré suggests the first form, which is the earliest, derives from stimmida, an accusative for stimmi. [41]


World antimony output in 2010 World Antimony Production 2010.svg
World antimony output in 2010
World production trend of antimony Antimony - world production trend.svg
World production trend of antimony

Top producers and production volumes

The British Geological Survey (BGS) reported that in 2005 China was the top producer of antimony with approximately 84% of the world share, followed at a distance by South Africa, Bolivia and Tajikistan. Xikuangshan Mine in Hunan province has the largest deposits in China with an estimated deposit of 2.1 million metric tons. [42]

In 2016, according to the US Geological Survey, China accounted for 76.9% of total antimony production, followed in second place by Russia with 6.9% and Tajikistan with 6.2%. [43]

Antimony production in 2016 [11]
CountryTonnes% of total
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 100,00076.9
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 9,0006.9
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan 8,0006.2
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia 4,0003.1
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 3,5002.7
Top 5124,50095.8
Total world130,000100.0

Chinese production of antimony is expected to decline in the future as mines and smelters are closed down by the government as part of pollution control. Especially due to a new environmental protection law having gone into effect on January 2015 [44] and revised “Emission Standards of Pollutants for Stanum, Antimony, and Mercury” having gone into effect, hurdles for economic production are higher. According to the National Bureau of Statistics in China, by September 2015 50% of antimony production capacity in the Hunan province (the province with biggest antimony reserves in China) had not been used. [45]

Reported production of antimony in China has fallen and is unlikely to increase in the coming years, according to the Roskill report. No significant antimony deposits in China have been developed for about ten years, and the remaining economic reserves are being rapidly depleted. [46]

The world's largest antimony producers, according to Roskill, are listed below:

Largest antimony producers in 2010. [47]
(tonnes per year)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Mandalay Resources2,750
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia various5,460
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Beaver Brook6,000
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Hsikwangshan Twinkling Star55,000
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Hunan Chenzhou Mining20,000
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China China Tin Group20,000
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China Shenyang Huachang Antimony15,000
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan Kazzinc1,000
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg  Kyrgyzstan Kadamdzhai500
Flag of Laos.svg  Laos SRS500
Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico US Antimony70
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar various6,000
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia GeoProMining6,500
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Consolidated Murchison6,000
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan Unzob5,500
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand unknown600
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey Cengiz & Özdemir Antimuan Madenleri2,400


According to statistics from the USGS, current global reserves of antimony will be depleted in 13 years. However, the USGS expects more resources will be found.

World antimony reserves in 2015 [47]
(tonnes of antimony content)
% of total
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  People's Republic of China 950,00047.81
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 350,00017.61
Flag of Bolivia.svg  Bolivia 310,00015.60
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 140,0007.05
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 60,0003.02
Flag of Tajikistan.svg  Tajikistan 50,0002.52
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 27,0001.36
Other countries100,0005.03
Total world1,987,000100.0

Production process

The extraction of antimony from ores depends on the quality and composition of the ore. Most antimony is mined as the sulfide; lower-grade ores are concentrated by froth flotation, while higher-grade ores are heated to 500–600 °C, the temperature at which stibnite melts and separates from the gangue minerals. Antimony can be isolated from the crude antimony sulfide by reduction with scrap iron: [48]

+ 3 Fe → 2 Sb + 3 FeS

The sulfide is converted to an oxide; the product is then roasted, sometimes for the purpose of vaporizing the volatile antimony(III) oxide, which is recovered. [49] This material is often used directly for the main applications, impurities being arsenic and sulfide. [50] [51] Antimony is isolated from the oxide by a carbothermal reduction: [48] [50]

2 Sb
+ 3 C → 4 Sb + 3 CO

The lower-grade ores are reduced in blast furnaces while the higher-grade ores are reduced in reverberatory furnaces. [48]

Supply risk and critical mineral rankings

Antimony has consistently been ranked high in European and US risk lists concerning criticality of the element indicating the relative risk to the supply of chemical elements or element groups required to maintain the current economy and lifestyle.

With most of the antimony imported into Europe and the US coming from China, Chinese production is critical to supply. As China is revising and increasing environmental control standards, antimony production is becoming increasingly restricted. Additionally Chinese export quotas for antimony have been decreasing in the past years. These two factors increase supply risk for both Europe and US.


According to the BGS Risk List 2015, antimony is ranked second highest (after rare earth elements) on the relative supply risk index. [52] This indicates that it has currently the second highest supply risk for chemical elements or element groups which are of economic value to the British economy and lifestyle. Furthermore, antimony was identified as one of 20 critical raw materials for the EU in a report published in 2014 (which revised the initial report published in 2011). As seen in Figure xxx antimony maintains high supply risk relative to its economic importance. 92% of the antimony is imported from China, which is a significantly high concentration of production. [53]


Much analysis has been conducted in the U.S. toward defining which metals should be called strategic or critical to the nation's security. Exact definitions do not exist, and views as to what constitutes a strategic or critical mineral to U.S. security diverge. [54]

In 2015, no antimony was mined in the U.S. The metal is imported from foreign countries. From 2011-2014 68% of America's antimony came from China, 14% from India, 4% from Mexico, and 14% from other sources. There are no publicly known government stockpiles in place currently.

The U.S. “Subcommittee on Critical and Strategic Mineral Supply Chains” has screened 78 mineral resources from 1996-2008. It found that a small subset of minerals including antimony has fallen into the category of potentially critical minerals consistently. In the future, a second assessment will be made of the found subset of minerals to identify which should be defined of significant risk and critical to U.S. interests. [55]


About 60% of antimony is consumed in flame retardants, and 20% is used in alloys for batteries, plain bearings, and solders. [48]

Flame retardants

Antimony is mainly used as the trioxide for flame-proofing compounds, always in combination with halogenated flame retardants except in halogen-containing polymers. The flame retarding effect of antimony trioxide is produced by the formation of halogenated antimony compounds, [56] which react with hydrogen atoms, and probably also with oxygen atoms and OH radicals, thus inhibiting fire. [57] Markets for these flame-retardants include children's clothing, toys, aircraft, and automobile seat covers. They are also added to polyester resins in fiberglass composites for such items as light aircraft engine covers. The resin will burn in the presence of an externally generated flame, but will extinguish when the external flame is removed. [49] [58]


Antimony forms a highly useful alloy with lead, increasing its hardness and mechanical strength. For most applications involving lead, varying amounts of antimony are used as alloying metal. In lead–acid batteries, this addition improves plate strength and charging characteristics. [49] [59] It is used in antifriction alloys (such as Babbitt metal), [60] in bullets and lead shot, electrical cable sheathing, type metal (for example, for linotype printing machines [61] ), solder (some "lead-free" solders contain 5% Sb), [62] in pewter, [63] and in hardening alloys with low tin content in the manufacturing of organ pipes.

Other applications

Three other applications consume nearly all the rest of the world's supply. [48] One application is as a stabilizer and catalyst for the production of polyethylene terephthalate. [48] Another is as a fining agent to remove microscopic bubbles in glass, mostly for TV screens; [64] antimony ions interact with oxygen, suppressing the tendency of the latter to form bubbles. [65] The third application is pigments. [48]

Antimony is increasingly being used in semiconductors as a dopant in n-type silicon wafers [66] for diodes, infrared detectors, and Hall-effect devices. In the 1950s, the emitters and collectors of n-p-n alloy junction transistors were doped with tiny beads of a lead-antimony alloy. [67] Indium antimonide is used as a material for mid-infrared detectors. [68] [69] [70]

Biology and medicine have few uses for antimony. Treatments containing antimony, known as antimonials, are used as emetics. [71] Antimony compounds are used as antiprotozoan drugs. Potassium antimonyl tartrate, or tartar emetic, was once used as an anti-schistosomal drug from 1919 on. It was subsequently replaced by praziquantel. [72] Antimony and its compounds are used in several veterinary preparations, such as anthiomaline and lithium antimony thiomalate, as a skin conditioner in ruminants. [73] Antimony has a nourishing or conditioning effect on keratinized tissues in animals.

Antimony-based drugs, such as meglumine antimoniate, are also considered the drugs of choice for treatment of leishmaniasis in domestic animals. Unfortunately, besides having low therapeutic indices, the drugs have minimal penetration of the bone marrow, where some of the Leishmania amastigotes reside, and curing the disease – especially the visceral form – is very difficult. [74] Elemental antimony as an antimony pill was once used as a medicine. It could be reused by others after ingestion and elimination. [75]

Antimony(III) sulfide is used in the heads of some safety matches. [76] [77] Antimony sulfides help to stabilize the friction coefficient in automotive brake pad materials. [78] Antimony is used in bullets, bullet tracers, [79] paint, glass art, and as an opacifier in enamel. Antimony-124 is used together with beryllium in neutron sources; the gamma rays emitted by antimony-124 initiate the photodisintegration of beryllium. [80] [81] The emitted neutrons have an average energy of 24 keV. [82] Natural antimony is used in startup neutron sources.

Historically, the powder derived from crushed antimony ( kohl ) has been applied to the eyes with a metal rod and with one's spittle, thought by the ancients to aid in curing eye infections. [83] The practice is still seen in Yemen and in other Arabian countries.


The effects of antimony and its compounds on human and environmental health differ widely. Elemental antimony metal does not affect human and environmental health. Inhalation of antimony trioxide (and similar poorly soluble Sb(III) dust particles such as antimony dust) is considered harmful and suspected of causing cancer. However, these effects are only observed with female rats and after long-term exposure to high dust concentrations. The effects are hypothesized to be attributed to inhalation of poorly soluble Sb particles leading to impaired lung clearance, lung overload, inflammation and ultimately tumour formation, not to exposure to antimony ions (OECD, 2008). Antimony chlorides are corrosive to skin. The effects of antimony are not comparable to those of arsenic; this might be caused by the significant differences of uptake, metabolism, and excretion between arsenic and antimony.

For oral absorption, ICRP (1994) has recommended values of 10% for tartar emetic and 1% for all other antimony compounds. Dermal absorption for metals is estimated to be at most 1% (HERAG, 2007). Inhalation absorption of antimony trioxide and other poorly soluble Sb(III) substances (such as antimony dust) is estimated at 6.8% (OECD, 2008), whereas a value <1% is derived for Sb(V) substances. Antimony(V) is not quantitatively reduced to antimony(III) in the cell, and both species exist simultaneously.

Antimony is mainly excreted from the human body via urine. Antimony and its compounds do not cause acute human health effects, with the exception of antimony potassium tartrate ("tartar emetic"), a prodrug that is intentionally used to treat leishmaniasis patients.

Prolonged skin contact with antimony dust may cause dermatitis. However, it was agreed at the European Union level that the skin rashes observed are not substance-specific, but most probably due to a physical blocking of sweat ducts (ECHA/PR/09/09, Helsinki, 6 July 2009). Antimony dust may also be explosive when dispersed in the air; when in a bulk solid it is not combustible. [84]

Antimony is incompatible with strong acids, halogenated acids, and oxidizers; when exposed to newly formed hydrogen it may form stibine (SbH3). [84]

The 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) is set at 0.5 mg/m3 by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a legal permissible exposure limit (PEL) in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 0.5 mg/m3 as an 8 hour TWA. [84] Antimony compounds are used as catalysts for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production. Some studies report minor antimony leaching from PET bottles into liquids, but levels are below drinking water guidelines. Antimony concentrations in fruit juice concentrates were somewhat higher (up to 44.7 µg/L of antimony), but juices do not fall under the drinking water regulations. The drinking water guidelines are:

The TDI proposed by WHO is 6 µg antimony per kilogram of body weight. [87] The IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) value for antimony is 50 mg/m3. [84]


Certain compounds of antimony appear to be toxic, particularly antimony trioxide and antimony potassium tartrate. [88] Effects may be similar to arsenic poisoning. [89] Occupational exposure may cause respiratory irritation, pneumoconiosis, antimony spots on the skin, gastrointestinal symptoms, and cardiac arrhythmias. In addition, antimony trioxide is potentially carcinogenic to humans. [90]

Adverse health effects have been observed in humans and animals following inhalation, oral, or dermal exposure to antimony and antimony compounds. [88] Antimony toxicity typically occurs either due to occupational exposure, during therapy or from accidental ingestion. It is unclear if antimony can enter the body through the skin. [88]

See also


  1. Already in 1710 Wilhelm Gottlob Freiherr von Leibniz, after careful inquiry, concluded the work was spurious, there was no monk named Basilius Valentinus, and the book's author was its ostensible editor, Johann Thölde (c. 1565 – c. 1624). Professional historians now agree the Currus Triumphalis ... was written after the middle of the 16th century and Thölde was likely its author. [26]

Related Research Articles

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A Metalloid is a type of chemical element which has properties in between, or that are a mixture of, those of metals and nonmetals. There is neither a standard definition of a metalloid nor complete agreement on the elements appropriately classified as such. Despite the lack of specificity, the term remains in use in the literature of chemistry.

Marsh test toxicology test to detect arsenic

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Arsine Chemical compound

Arsine (IUPAC name: arsane) is an inorganic compound with the formula AsH3. This flammable, pyrophoric, and highly toxic pnictogen hydride gas is one of the simplest compounds of arsenic. Despite its lethality, it finds some applications in the semiconductor industry and for the synthesis of organoarsenic compounds. The term arsine is commonly used to describe a class of organoarsenic compounds of the formula AsH3−xRx, where R = aryl or alkyl. For example, As(C6H5)3, called triphenylarsine, is referred to as "an arsine".

Sulfide salt or other derivative of hydrogen sulfide or organic compound having the structure RSR (R ≠ H)

Sulfide (British English also sulphide) is an inorganic anion of sulfur with the chemical formula S2− or a compound containing one or more S2− ions. Solutions of sulfide salts are corrosive. Sulfide also refers to chemical compounds large families of inorganic and organic compounds, e.g. lead sulfide and dimethyl sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and bisulfide (SH) are the conjugate acids of sulfide.

Stibine chemical compound

Stibine (IUPAC name: stibane) is a chemical compound with the formula SbH3. A pnictogen hydride, this colourless gas is the principal covalent hydride of antimony, and a heavy analogue of ammonia. The molecule is pyramidal with H–Sb–H angles of 91.7° and Sb–H distances of 170.7 pm (1.707 Å). This gas has an offensive smell like hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs).

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Antimony trioxide chemical compound

Antimony(III) oxide is the inorganic compound with the formula Sb2O3. It is the most important commercial compound of antimony. It is found in nature as the minerals valentinite and senarmontite. Like most polymeric oxides, Sb2O3 dissolves in aqueous solutions with hydrolysis.

Arsenic pentoxide chemical compound

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Antimony pentoxide chemical compound

Antimony pentoxide (molecular formula: Sb2O5) is a chemical compound of antimony and oxygen. It always occurs in hydrated form, Sb2O5·nH2O. It contains antimony in the +5 oxidation state.

Antimony tribromide chemical compound

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Bismuth Chemical element with atomic number 83

Bismuth is a chemical element with the symbol Bi and atomic number 83. It is a pentavalent post-transition metal and one of the pnictogens with chemical properties resembling its lighter homologs arsenic and antimony. Elemental bismuth may occur naturally, although its sulfide and oxide form important commercial ores. The free element is 86% as dense as lead. It is a brittle metal with a silvery white color when freshly produced, but surface oxidation can give it a pink tinge. Bismuth is the most naturally diamagnetic element, and has one of the lowest values of thermal conductivity among metals.

Arsenic pentasulfide chemical compound

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Antimony sulfate, Sb2(SO4)3, is a hygroscopic material formed by reacting antimony or its compounds with hot sulfuric acid. It is used in doping of semiconductors and in the production of explosives and fireworks.

Pnictogen hydrides or hydrogen pnictides are binary compounds of hydrogen with pnictogen atoms covalently bonded to hydrogen.


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