Tantalum market

The majority of the world’s tantalum is sold by way of long-term offtake agreements between the miner and the tantalum refiner/metal producer. Tantalum is not sold via a regulated market as is for gold, copper, zinc and tin. The global tantalum Ta2O5 market is estimated to be in the order of 4,7 – 5,1 million pounds (approx. 2,200 tonnes) per annum for the years 2005 - 2006. Industry commentators suggest that the market is growing at a rate of about 7% per annum.

Tantalite exploration and mining in Africa



The Ta-Nb-Sn mineralization of Abu Dabbab is represented by disseminated cassiterite and niobio-tantalite, hosted in a stock of aplogranite. The aplogranite at Abu Dabbab is leucocratic, holocrystalline, white grey to greenish blue and with manganese oxide spots and dendrites. It is mostly fine to medium grained and occasionally has a porphyritic texture.

  • Gippsland Limited (Australian) is developing and exploring the 40 million tonne Abu Dabbab and the 98 million tonne Nuweibi tantalum-tin projects located in the Central Eastern Desert of Egypt, adjacent to the western shore of the Red Sea.The Abu Dabbab deposit is covered by two Exploitation Leases granted in the name of Tantalum Egypt JSC, a company incorporated in Egypt and owned 50% by the Egyptian Government via the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority (EMRA) and 50% by Tantalum International Pty Ltd which is a 100% owned subsidiary of Gippsland Ltd. Measured, indicated and inferred resources are 39, 9 million tonnes at a 0,01% Ta2O5 cut-off and a grade of 0,0252% Ta2O5, 0,0116% Nb2O5 and 0,089% Sn. Tantalum Egypt JSC, in which Gippsland has an indirect 50% interest, on Nov. 23, 2007, announced a 10-year off-take agreement with Germany’s H.C. Starck, for the purchase of 600,000 of a total estimated 650,000 pounds of titanium pentoxide to be produced at Abu Dabbab each year.
    H.C. Starck, recently acquired by Advent International and The Carlyle Group for approximately US$ 1.56 billion, specializes in manufacturing high capacitance tantalum powders that are essential to produce the latest generation of modern electronic devices and appliances.

Mozambique’s total tantalite production was 281,212 kg or 619,000 lb in 2005 compared with 712,095 kg (1,57 million lb) in 2004, according to the US Geological Survey.

  • Noventa is operating the Marropino opencast tantalum mine expected to reach its capacity of 300,000 lb/year in the second quarter of 2007. Noventa currently has ore reserves of 11,4 million tonnes. The company has 12 licences in Mozambique and is exploring deposits at Morrua and Mutala; the latter having been mined on a small scale for 30 years. Reserves and resources of tantalite amount to 19 million pounds.

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