As Copper Month winds to a close, we’re thrilled to begin Antimony Month, the second part of our three-month informational campaign on copper, antimony, and lithium — American Resources’ way of highlighting how metals and minerals are critical to our economic advancement, quality of life and national security. All this month we’ll be featuring stories on antimony and the role it plays in our daily lives.
Recently, online publication Resource Investor featured an interview with Global Securities’ Metals and Mining Analyst, Jeff Hunter, on antimony – a metal with “an interesting past and a bright future. “
The use of antimony dates back to ancient times, when it was primarily used for medicinal purposes. Since then, it has been used in television cathode ray tubes, lead acid batteries, and most recently, in fire retardants. According to Wright, this is where its future lies, particularly in automobile manufacturing. As demand has increased for lighter, faster, more fuel-efficient cars, so too has the need for fire-retardant plastic – and by extension – antimony. The technical process may be complex, but the concept is straightforward: one route to fuel efficiency is making cars lighter, lighter cars means less metal and more plastic, but plastic is more flammable. Enter antimony: An element that, mixed with plastic, makes it more flame resistant.
The U.S. holds significant deposits of minable antimony; however, our import dependency rate for this metal is 93 percent, with China reportedly accounting for around 90 percent of global output. This situation should sound familiar to those aware of China’s near-identical monopoly on rare earth elements, another mineral resource with broad technology applications.
While this fact has caught the British Geological Survey’s attention and earned antimony the title of top critical mineral on the Survey’s new Risk List 2011, many American policy makers have yet to realize that our dependance on foreign minerals stretches well beyond rare earths. It’s time they do, because as the global race for resources heats up, the rest of the world won’t wait for the U.S.