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Demand for Tantalum stays strong, while SEC conflict minerals rules don’t seem to affect import levels

Our friends at MetalMiner recently went over import and export trends for Tantalum against the backdrop of the August 22, 2012 SEC conflict minerals rule and they enlisted Chris Grove, director of communications at Commerce Resources, a junior Tantalum mining firm, to comment on the numbers.

MetalMiner found that in spite of new rules being in place, the import numbers for Tantalum from China look roughly the same today as they did before the August SEC action, indicating that there is a good chance the Tantalum industry “has found a way around the ruling,” as Grove suggests. The dollar value of Tantalum imports from China even peaked in January of 2013.

Commenting on the apparent stability of import levels, Grove pointed out to MetalMiner that companies don’t actually have to file their conflict mineral disclosures before May 2014. Continues MetalMiner’s post:

“And once tantalum ore moves to an oxide form, it becomes untraceable. The main exporters of oxide have likely stockpiled the processed oxide (ed. note: the tantalum supply chain tends toward stockpiling vs. JIT-type ordering) and have now secured conflict-free raw materials for ongoing operations. In other words, conflict materials have likely already converted to a processed oxide and have made their way to US firms. For the first reporting period, buying organizations will likely declare tantalum oxide ‘source undeterminable,’ whereas by the 2015 reporting period, most of the processed oxides will likely come from conflict-free sources.”

Meanwhile, Grove sees the January dollar value import peak as a sign that “the demand for Tantalum is increasing, which makes perfect sense considering the overall increasing demand for products themselves that need Tantalum for their design and performance,” which is all the more reason why U.S. stakeholders should keep Tantalum on their watch list.