Antimony is a globally important metalloid that is widely used as a heat stabiliser in plastics, as a flame retardant, in lead-acid batteries, but also in a range of other products including microelectronics, brake linings, ammunition, glass and semiconductors. Worldwide consumption was estimated at 188,000 tonnes in 2016. Significant mineral resources exist in Australia, Bolivia, China, and Russia but China is by far the dominant producer, and consequently antimony is considered a critical risk mineral commodity for global supply.
With high consumer demand, antimony emissions to the environment are numerous. Gross contamination is reported especially at large scale mining and smelter sites used for extraction and production and at many defence and firing ranges used for armaments practise across the globe. Antimony is known to be genotoxic at low concentrations and exhibits synergistic effects with co-occurring elements typically lead and arsenic. Nevertheless, many important aspects of antimony behaviour in natural systems are still not well understood. These include toxicity, biogeochemical processing, solid phase sinks, speciation, interaction, competition, along with redox and pH drivers of transformation and mobilisation. This lack of knowledge hinders risk assessment, improved recovery, remediation and management.
The IMA meeting provides a unique opportunity to bring together new research on antimony from a range of key invested disciplines. Specific areas of interest for this session include environmental mineralogy and geochemistry such as transportation, transformation, associations, mobilisation and speciation, analytical advances, remediation technology, and considerations for co-occurring elements such as arsenic and lead.
Associate Professor Susan Wilson (Australia)
University of New England
About the session convenor
Susan is Associate Professor Environmental Pollution at University of New England, Armidale, NSW. She has established and leads the Pollution Science Research Group in the School of Environmental and Rural Science. She obtained her PhD in environmental chemistry from Lancaster University, UK, in 1993, and moved to Australia in 1999. She has over 20 years research expertise on pollutants, working in the US, Europe, UK and Australia with periods also in the consultancy industry and regulation. Her research focuses on pollutants in soils: their processing and cycling, interactions, their effects, managing risks and remediation. Susan chaired the 2017 symposium on Antimony in the Environment within the International Conference on Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements and is an expert on comparative antimony and arsenic biogeochemistry and effects.
- Associate Professor Matthew Tighe (Australia), University of New England
- Dr Montserrat Filella (Switzerland), University of Geneva
- Professor Peter Williams (Australia), Western Sydney University