Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rare Earth Metals: Tantalum sector desperate for new resources TNR.v, CZX.v, AVL.to, RES.v, CCE.v, GOOG, AAPL, SNE, RIMM, BYDDY, NSANY, RNO, BMW, DIA,

Key point summary:
1. Samples at Mavis & Forgan Lake have confirmed high grade Li2O and the presence of rare metals -- grab samples up to 3.14% Li2O.
2. Other Rare Metals (Tantalum) over limit samples are pending
3. Phase 2 follow-up underway"

"Tantalum (formerly called tantalium), it is originated from Latin Tantalus sometimes called Tantale or Tantal Sonderwerkstoffe. Tantalum has a melting point of 2996°C and a density of 16.65 gm/cc, it is one of refractory metals (the most extensively used of these metals are tungsten, tantalum, molybdenum and columbium or niobium), most sheet-metal fabrication of tantalum can be welded to itself and to certain other metals by resistance welding, tungsten inert-gas (TIG) welding, and to itself by inert-gas arc welding. Electron-beam welding can also be used, particularly for joining to other metals. However, surfaces that are heated above 315°C during welding must be protected with an inert gas to prevent embrittlement.
Tantalum and tantalum alloys are midway between tungsten and molybdenum in density and melting points. Tantalum can be worked easily at room temperature. Tantalum's corrosion resistance is excellent in most acids and caustics as glass . Pure tantalum recrystallizes at approximately 2200°F (1204°C).
Principal applications for tantalum are in capacitor anodes, filaments, gettering devices, chemical-process equipment, and high-temperature aerospace engine components. Tantalum offers excellent "gettering" properties, making it popular in vacuum tubes to absorb products of out-gassing upon heat up of the tube components. It is also used to getter potential contaminants of niobium and its alloys as well as titanium during vacuum heat treating operations. Tantalum also provides good thermal conductivity that, combined with its corrosion resistance, has made it the ideal choice for heat exchangers for acid processing equipment. It is superior to the nickel-based alloys in both these categories.Tantalum also develops a stable oxide (Tantalum Pentoxide) that is useful in electronics industry applications."



SUPPLY CRUNCH
Mineweb Tantalum sector desperate for new resources
Analysts estimate stock piles could run dry in as little as 3 years
Author: Chris Kelly
Posted: Thursday , 22 Oct 2009
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -
A severe supply crunch has hit the tantalum industry, and stockpiles of the metal used primarily in consumer electronic products could run dry in as little as three years, an industry analyst said on Tuesday.
"The industry at the moment is living on stocks. Late last year it was estimated that there was enough tantalum in the supply chain to last for two years. That was last year ... that will run out by 2012," said Patrick Stratton BA, senior analyst with Roskill Information Services Ltd. during a panel discussion titled, The 'Alternative Energy' Metals at the Managing Supply Chain Risks for Critical & Strategic Metals conference in Washington, D.C.
Stratton said the industry's problems were largely brought on by an unprecedented spike in the spot market price in 2000 after similar supply fears caused many nervous dealers to lock themselves into long-term contracts at very high market prices.
"They (tantalum capacitor manufacturers) paid for it dearly with inventory write-downs and future inventory write-downs," Stratton said. After a period of relative stability in the market, he said, everything "fell off of a cliff" in 2008, as the economic downturn put the brakes on consumer demand.
Many companies suspended production, including Australia's Talison Minerals, which provided about a third of the world's tantalum supply. Others included Noventa's Mozambique mine and Canada's Tanco mine.
Talison plans to reactivate its Wodgina mine in mid-2010.
"We have a situation now where primary production of tantalum is limited to material coming out of Brazil, some production coming out of Africa, some Chinese material, and that is about it," Stratton said.
He saw only two real possibilities for new acceptable and ethical sources of tantalum, and they were both in Canada.
One was the Blue River Project in British Columbia, owned by Commerce Resources Corp (CCE.V), which was expected to be up and running in 2011.
Since 1990, tantalum's demand growth rate is about 5% per year. The price of tantalite, used to make tantalum metal, has been trading south of $40 a lb in the third quarter of 2009.
"A good question to ask is, 'what is the downstream industry more afraid of ... the price of tantalum or not being able to get hold of any tantalum?" Stratton asked.
"The second part of that is a very real possibility if something does not happen very soon." (Editing by David Gregorio)"
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