Antimony is a chemical element with 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 used for cosmetics; metallic antimony was also known, but it was erroneously identified as lead upon its discovery. It was first isolated by Vannoccio Biringuccio and described in 1540.
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 to produce antimony are roasting and subsequent carbothermal reduction or direct reduction of stibnite with iron.
The largest applications for metallic antimony are as alloying material for lead and tin and for lead antimony plates in lead–acid batteries. Alloying lead and tin with antimony improves the properties of the alloys which are used in 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.