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Tantalum - Raw Materials and Processing

Typical Market Specifications

Tantalite on the international market generally contains a minimum of 30% Ta2O5, while lower grade material with a minimum of 20% Ta2O5 may also be of interest. The payable value is based on the Ta2O5 content alone, any Nb2O5 is generally ignored.

Should material contain mainly Nb2O5 and only little Ta2O5, then it would be sold as columbite and should contain a minimum of 50% Nb2O5. The payable value is based on the Nb2O5+Ta2O5 content payable entirely as Nb2O5; the Ta2O5 content is not paid a higher rate.

Other Requirements

The tantalum and niobium minerals often contain somewhat elevated levels of naturally occurring thorium and uranium, usually high enough for them to be classified as radioactive for handling and transport. It is incumbent on any producer or trader to also analyse for Th and U in order to demonstrate whether the material is radioactive or not. As a guide, these elements are of concern for the purpose of mining and handling at levels above 1 Bq/g, a level obtained from e.g. 0.013% ThO2 plus 0.0048% U3O8, whereas for transport the levels of concern are an order of magnitude higher, i.e. 10 Bq/g or 0.13% ThO2 plus 0.048% U3O8.

Coltan

Coltan' is an abbreviation used only in parts of Africa for 'columbo-tantalite', it is a local name or nickname. Mineral concentrates containing tantalum are usually referred to as 'tantalite'. Columbite contains the element columbium, another name for niobium; tantalite contains tantalum.

Tantalite is the mineral or ore, and tantalum is the metallic element which can be extracted (or refined) from the ore. 'Coltan' from central Africa is only one of many sources of tantalum.

The main supply of the world's tantalum comes from Australia and Brazil, while tantalum minerals are also mined in China, the DRC, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Russia and Rwanda. Tantalum is also produced in Thailand and Malaysia as a by-product of tin mining and smelting.

Tantalum raw materials also occur in many other countries, such as Canada, Colombia, Egypt, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Venezuela and Zimbabwe. The level of production in these countries varies from exploration deposits to active artisanal mining and inactive major mines.

A concentrate may contain 10 to 40% Ta2O5, its commercial value is calculated on the tantalum oxide content (which could therefore be as little as one-tenth of the total weight of the material).

Magma Coltan

Our Magma Coltan product is an internationally patented product resulting from the mix of columbite-tantalite alloy with Costa Rica’s sourced minerals. Our analyses show that, thanks to this mixture, the molecular function and fusion properties are maximized, exposing the mineral’s base concentration to the maximum and achieving an optimum binding of its components (columbite and tantalite)... »More

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