Antimony is a naturally occurring element in the Earth’s crust. It is used in various applications including lead alloys and glass additives, but its primary use is in fire-proofing. When mixed with antimony, plastics and electronics can be used in environments where they would otherwise melt.
As most industrialized countries require by law that clothes and household plastics are flame resistant, antimony consumption is expected to increase by 18% by 2016 from this sector alone. However, antimony supply is far less guaranteed, as illegal Chinese mining operations account for 17% percent of global production. In addition, global reserves will only last nine years at current consumption rates.
These factors have driven antimony prices up 700% in the last decade. Strong demand for antimony combined with dwindling and precarious supply will only exacerbate the current supply deficit, and continue to put upward pressure on prices.