Market Overview

Coltan Demand Grows as Tantalum Applications Expand


Coltan Demand Grows as Tantalum Applications Expand News Commentary

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, July 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

Tantalum, along with similar metals such as Niobium, can be found in minerals such as coltan, columbite and tantalite. It is a transition metal that has a high melting point and is capable of resisting high corrosion, as a result, the mineral is being used by major companies such as Nokia and Sony. According to data provided by Mordor Intelligence, the global tantalum market is expected to witness a CAGR of approximately 3.1%, during the forecast period of 2018 to 2023, mostly driven by its increasing application base in the electronics industry. Additionally, the demand for tantalum is expected to rise due to the growing telecommunication sector, owing to the requirement for low voltage capacitors. Vatic Ventures Corp (OTC:VTTCF), AVX Corporation (NYSE:AVX), NioCorp Developments Ltd. (OTC:NIOBF), Commerce Resources Corp. (OTC:CMRZF), Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (NYSE:VSH)

Tantalum is widely used by in the electronics industry, where the mineral is implemented in manufacturing capacitors and high-power resistors. Information provided by Transparency Market Research indicates that, "tantalums' use is mostly limited to high-end capacitors where stability and high volumetric capacity is of paramount importance. Other electronic applications of tantalum are sputtering targets and target acoustic wave filters. Apart from that, tantalum finds application in medical devices, chemical processing and manufacturing of superalloys. Tantalum-oxide is used in camera lenses as well as X-ray equipment, while tantalum carbide is used to manufacture cutting tools."

Vatic Ventures Corp (OTC:VTTCF) also listed on the TSX Venture Exchange under the ticker (TSX-V: VCV). Earlier today, the Company announced breaking news that, "it has entered into negotiations with a private Sierra Leone company to earn a majority interest in a columbite-tantalite ("coltan") property in the Kono district, eastern Sierra Leone, Africa. The license area totals 169.73 km[2]. The Kono district is a well-known mineral producing region for gold, diamonds, and coltan. According to documents from the license holder that were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, "columbite-tantalite is a non-conflict mineral and the license area is a non-conflict region in Sierra Leone".

Coltan in Sierra Leone is a fairly recent discovery. The Director General of the Mines Department of the country recently described coltan as the "new kid on the block" on the Sierra Leone mineral landscape. The USGS recently reported that several companies in Sierra Leone are exploring for this material and that there was small-scale production and exports in 2013/2014.

Coltan (columbite-tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore, from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. Niobium and tantalum have a wide range of uses, including refractive lenses for glasses, cameras, phones and printers. They are also used in semiconductor circuits, and capacitors for small electronic devices such as hearing aids, pacemakers, computer hard drives, automobile electronics, and mobile phones. The European Commission has placed both niobium and tantalum on its 2017 list of Critical Raw Materials for the EU.

The tantalite market has experienced significant price rises in the last two years, from just over USD 120/kg to over USD 186/kg. The market for niobium has remained relatively stable the past two years at over USD 42,000 per metric ton. Vatic sees this as a strategic opportunity to diversify its project portfolio."

AVX Corporation (NYSE:AVX) is a leading international manufacturer and supplier of advanced electronic components and interconnect, sensor, control and antenna solutions with 29 manufacturing facilities in 16 countries around the world. The Company recently released the new SpiCAT online simulation tool. Designed with users in mind, new SpiCAT simulation software offers access to two separate portals - SpiMLCC and SpiTAN, which supersede SpiCap III and SpiTan IV - that provide electrical and performance characteristics by frequency and temperature for an extensive range of multilayer ceramic or tantalum, polymer, and niobium oxide surface-mount capacitors. The new SpiCAT software also simplifies capacitor selection, grouping different product series by common application features, and allows design engineers to review electrical characteristics for individual part numbers with respect to temperature and frequency to support quick, easy, and accurate parametric characterization and the rapid identification of capacitor solutions that are ideally suited to their individual application requirements.

NioCorp Developments Ltd. (OTCQX:NIOBF) is developing a superalloy materials project in Southeast Nebraska that will produce Niobium, Scandium, and Titanium. Niobium is used to produce superalloys as well as High Strength, Low Alloy steel, which is a lighter, stronger steel used in automotive, structural, and pipeline applications. Earlier this month, the Company announced that ongoing work on detailed engineering being conducted by the Nordmin Group of Companies on NioCorp's proposed Elk Creek Nebraska, Critical Minerals Mine shows that a proposed waterline to the Missouri River is no longer needed by the Project. Nordmin's ongoing design engineering of the Project's underground mine, and recently updated hydrogeological findings, show that significantly less bedrock water may be encountered during mining operations than was estimated in the Project's 2017 Revised Feasibility Study. This has allowed removal of the waterline, proposed in the 2017 Project FS, from the new mine plan.

Commerce Resources Corp. (OTC:CMRZF) is an exploration and development company with a particular focus on deposits of rare metals and rare earth elements. The Company is focused on the development of its Ashram Rare Earth Element Deposit in Quebec and the Upper Fir Tantalum and Niobium Deposit in British Columbia. Earlier this year, the Company announced that the tantalum and niobium sample from the Upper Fir Deposit in British Columbia has been successfully processed utilizing the patented Krupin Process. The sample of Upper Fir Deposit material, totaling approximately 1,300 kg was sent by the Company to the Krupin facility and was received there in the fall of 2017. The processing took place thereafter and following initial reports of success.

Vishay Intertechnology, Inc. (NYSE:VSH) is one of the world's largest manufacturers of discrete semiconductors (diodes, MOSFETs, and infrared optoelectronics) and passive electronic components (resistors, inductors, and capacitors). In May, the Company announced that it will be showcasing its extensive offering of military-qualified and COTS resistors and tantalum capacitors at the 2018 Components for Military and Space Electronics (CMSE) conference and exhibition. Featured military-qualified tantalum capacitors at CMSE 2018 will include through-hole, surface-mount, and high energy wet tantalum capacitors; Vishay Sprague conformal-coated and molded tantalum chip capacitors with a wide range of capacitance/voltage ratings; and surface-mount polymer capacitors that undergo high-reliability processing, including surge current testing, accelerated aging, thermal cycling, and hot DLC screening. In addition, Vishay Sprague will highlight Hi-Rel COTS solid surface-mount tantalum capacitors with MIL screening and voltages to 75 V.

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