Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 64
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MINERAL FACTS AND PROBLEMS, ANNIVERSARY EDITION
Fine iron scrap is added to molten antimony
sulfide, yielding metallic antimony and iron
sulfide. Fluxing produces a low-density iron
matte from which the metallic antimony sep-
arates by gravity.
Water-jacketed blast furnaces are being used
in several modern plants to reduce intermediate
(10- to 30-percent) grades of partly oxidized
sulfied ores, residues, mattes, and slags. Bri-
quetted flue dust can also be used as a blast-
furnace charge. Best conditions are low blast
pressure, high smelting column, low antimony
content, and proportionally low coke content.
Considerable slag is formed, and is desirable as
it tends to reduce volatilization losses.
At the world's largest antimony smelter,
Laredo, Tex., blast-furnace reduction is used
prior to reverberatory treatment in producing
metal and commercial oxide from oxidized, rel-
atively low grade Mexican concentrates.
The Sunshine Mining Co., Coeur d'Alene dis-
trict, Idaho, recovers impure cathode metal
by electrolysis of an antimony-enriched solu-
tion obtained from leaching tetrahedrite con-
Antimony is recovered as a byproduct at lead
refineries from processing intermediate metal-
lurgical products that contain antimony as an
Historically, the purity of antimony has been
judged by the appearance of radiating crystal
patterns on the surface of the cast. Although
impurities may impede this crystal develop-
ment, the "starring" of the surface is more
closely related to the rate of cooling. The false
significance of the stars is so firmly established
in the minds of antimony buyers, however, that
the refiner finds it necessary to star the surface
of his castings by slow cooling under cover of
a layer of slag.
Antimony alloyed with lead finds industrial
use in battery grids, chemical pumps and pipes,
tank linings, roofing sheets, and cable sheaths.
The function of antimony in these antimonial
alloys is to increase strength and inhibit chem-
ical corrosion. In antifriction bearings the
antimony forms hard crystals of SnSb that are
imbedded and dispersed through a soft alloy
such as SnCu3 or soft lead. Antimony in-
creases hardness, minimizes shrinkage, permits
sharp definition, and lowers the melting point
of printers' type metal. Precision duplication,
durability, metallic beauty, and economy make
antimonial alloys desirable for decorative cast-
The oxide of antimony, Sb,20s, is used exten-
sively in mietalware and ceramic enamels and
as a white pigment in paints. The trioxide is
also a glass former, like silica, and is valued
for peculiar light-transmitting characteristics.
Various chemical compounds yield pigments of
black, vermilion, yellow, and orange. Infra-
red-reflecting characteristics of a certain anti-
mony sulfide pigment have led to its use in
camouflage paints. The pentasulfide of anti-
mony is used in the rubber industry as a vul-
canizing agent. The textile industry uses the
oxide with chlorinated paraffin and lime as a
finishing additive to fibers. The role of the
Sb2O3 is one of filtering out the fiber-destroy-
ing, ultraviolet wavelength of sunlight.
Large quantities of antimony trioxide or tri-
chloride in an organic solvent are used to make
military fabrics fire resistant. Flames accom-
panying initial combustion are restricted or ex-
tinguished by chemical reactants released by
heat from the treated fabric.
Antimony is used in various ammunition
components. Alloyed with lead it hardens
small-arms bullets. Tracer bullets have a re-
cess in their base containing a light-emitting
antimony sulfide mixture that permits visual
tracking of the projectile. Burning antimony
sulfide creates a dense white smoke that is used
in visual fire control, in sea markers, and in
visual signaling. A small but critical tonnage
of antimony sulfide is used annually in percus-
sion-type ammunition primers as a friction
element and heat-transfer medium.
BYPRODUCTS, COPRODUCTS, RELATION-
SHIP TO OTHER COMMODITIES
All antimony from domestic sources is a by-
product or coproduct of mining, smelting, and
refining other metals and ores that contain rel-
atively small quantities of antimony. Because
of the metallurgical affinity of antimony for
lead the byproduct material is segregated and
extracted at primary lead refineries.
Antimony has no properties that make it in-
dispensable, but it has technologic advantages
in many areas of application. Mercury, titan-
ium, lead, zinc, chromium, tin, and zirconium
may displace antimony in paints, pigments,
and enamels. Tin may substitute for antimony
in cable sheathings, calcium in battery plates,
bismuth in type metal, zinc in decorative cast-
ings, organic synthetics in fireproofing textiles,
and copper in bearing metal. However, the
choice of a raw material is an economical choice
as well as a technological one. Antimony has
always been a relatively cheap metal, substi-
tuting for more expensive ones. The specific
uses, and the extent to which antimony is used,
is an economic equilibrium position. With
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/72/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.