Gearing up for their upcoming conference on conflict minerals in early May, our friends at MetalMiner are stepping up their coverage of Tantalum, one of the four minerals commonly referred to as conflict minerals, with the other ones being Tungsten, Tin and Gold. A recent MetalMiner guest post by Chelsea Craven of Zepol Corporation looks at Tantalum Imports and Exports in the U.S..
Some of Craven’s key points:
- Demand for Tantalum is exploding in the U.S. as it’s a key component in many electronic gadgets, including computers, smart phones and tablets
- U.S. Tantalum trade had a “seesaw-like swing” in 2012, with imports having increased by 55 percent and exports having dipped by 16 percent.
- The numbers for unwrought Tantalum (which refers to the metal in its unfinished form and includes bars and rods obtained simply by sintering) are even more staggering with an 88 percent increase in imports and a 30 percent drop in exports.
- Number one supplier for U.S. Tantalum imports is China, and Chinese imports increased by 93 percent in 2012 alone.
- With demand continuing to surge as gadgets and electronics evolve, the average import price of Tantalum has gone from $110 in 2011 to nearly $300 in 2012, while showing no signs of abating.
Craven’s facts and figures underscore why Tantalum should be on everyone’s radar – and not only from the pure “conflict minerals” point of view, which relates to materials sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries.
Surging demand in light of Tantalum’s diverse unique properties, no significant U.S. mine production since the 1950s, challenges associated with the implementation of conflict minerals disclosure requirements, and China’s increasing role should be enough reason for U.S. stakeholders to keep Tantalum on their watch list.