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Tantalum's Industrial Versatility


One of the most crucial ores in the world is coltan, the source of tantalum, a unique metal element that is used in an astonishing array of products. While consumer electronics use the largest percentage of the world's tantalum, it's also used in everything from jet aircraft to surgical implements. The popularity of tantalum for manufacturing tantalum capacitors, surgical instruments and electronics is due to several unique properties.

What Makes Tantalum Unique?

There are a variety of metals and other materials that can conduct electricity and heat, but tantalum has a rare level of conductivity that makes it superior for a variety of applications. Tantalum is a dark grey, lustrous metal derived from coltan, a mineral product that is relatively rare outside of specific, mined regions of the world.

The unique properties that make tantalum a sought-after element include its high level of conductivity and its extreme strength. It conducts both heat and electricity with exceptional efficiency, with very little loss of energy. Because it is also extremely corrosive resistant and hard, it is ideal for the manufacturing of tantalum capacitors that may be exposed to a variety of corrosive agents. There are few elements available that combine strength, durability, high conductivity and a high melting point; tantalum meets all these criteria.

A Variety Of Uses For Tantalum

Tantalum capacitors are quite simply the best electrical capacitors on the market today. If you've used a cell phone, computer or video game, you've used tantalum capacitors. They are in virtually all computer motherboards as well as mobile phones and other devices. Tantalum capacitors are the single largest use for the element. With the demand for quality electronics and computers continually growing, a greater demand for tantalum in the future is virtually guaranteed. Tantalum capacitors ability to store and release electrical energy make them ideal for small devices such as Blackberries, cell phones and medical implants that require a great deal of storage in a relatively small size. The telecommunications, data storage and aircraft industries all rely on tantalum capacitors and other components.

The heat resistance, high melting point and ductility of tantalum also makes it an excellent component in aircraft, jet engines and turbines. Missiles and rockets also rely on tantalum's many strengths.

Surgical uses for tantalum include the manufacture of sterile sutures and metal plates for use in skull surgery. Due to its immunity to body fluids and non-corrosive nature, surgical implants are increasingly being made with tantalum. Ever smaller and more effective hearing aids benefit from the small size of tantalum components. Critical medical implants such as pacemakers and defibrillators also rely on the incorruptibility and reliability of tantalum components. Because it is non-reactive, tantalum is a metal element that doesn't cause allergic reactions or rejection by the body's immune system.

The Increasing Demand For Tantalum

Tantalum is usually derived from coltan, an ore made up primarily of tantalum and columbite, which is mined in several nations around the globe, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Canada, Russia and Australia. The demand for tantalum continues to grow rapidly; since 1995, the demand for tantalum has grown by an average of about 10% every year. With the demand for tantalum expanding annually, the search for viable sources continues to grow. Unfortunately, much of the world's supply comes from conflict ravaged areas such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Magma Coltan is a mining and export operation in Costa Rica that is focused on coltan mining in a country that is conflict free and economically stable. Our coltan mining operations utilize an outstanding local labor base in order to extract coltan from the region in an ecologically responsible manner without taking advantage of our work force. We are proud to offer the worldwide market a new and viable source for conflict-free coltan and tantalum of superior quality.