2006 Minerals Yearbook - 2006 Minerals Yearbook...

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2006 Minerals Yearbook NIOBIUM (COLUMBIUM) AND TANTALUM U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey July 2008
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NIOBIUM (COLUMBIUM) AND TANTALUM—2006 52.1 In 2006, U.S. niobium apparent consumption [measured in contained niobium (columbium)] was 10,072 metric tons (t), an increase of 36% compared with that of 2005. U.S. tantalum apparent consumption (measured in contained tantalum) was 435 t, a decrease of 52% compared with that of 2005. The United States did not mine niobium (columbium) or tantalum ore; however, the United States exported $133 million and imported $334 million worth of niobium- and tantalum- containing materials. The leading use of niobium is as an alloying element in steel. The leading use of tantalum is in electronic capacitors. Because the United States has no niobium or tantalum ore reserves, domestic supply has been a concern during every national military emergency since World War I. The last significant mining of niobium and tantalum in the United States was during the Korean war (1950-53), when increased military demand resulted in niobium and tantalum ore shortages. World niobium and tantalum ore resources and mining capacity are geographically concentrated in Brazil (niobium and tantalum) in the Western Hemisphere and in Australia (tantalum) in the Eastern Hemisphere. Canada also produces niobium and tantalum. World niobium and tantalum ore reserves are adequate to meet anticipated world demand. Material for recycling is the only domestic supply source of tantalum. Domestic Data Coverage Domestic data for niobium and tantalum materials were developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by means of the “Columbium (Niobium) and Tantalum,” “Consolidated Consumers,” and “Specialty Ferroalloys” surveys. Ferroniobium is the most consumed niobium-containing material. Steel producers are the leading consumers of niobium-containing materials. Legislation and Government Programs The Defense National Stockpile Center (DNSC) disposed of niobium and tantalum materials under its fiscal year 2006 (October 1, 2005, through September 30, 2006) Annual Materials Plan (AMP) and announced the fiscal year 2007 plan. The DNSC’s fiscal year 2007 AMP set maximum disposal goals for niobium and tantalum materials (niobium materials measured in contained niobium and tantalum materials measured in contained tantalum) at 254,000 kilograms (kg) of niobium concentrates, 9,070 kg of niobium metal, 227,000 kg of tantalum minerals, 1,810 kg of tantalum carbide, 9,070 kg of tantalum oxide, and 4,540 kg of tantalum metal (Defense National Stockpile Center, 2006a). The DNSC reported 2006 fiscal year sales (measured in contained tantalum) to be 253,844 kg of tantalum-containing materials comprising 233,473 kg of tantalum minerals for $19.7 million, 9,177 kg of tantalum ingots for $849,000, 9,275 kg of tantalum oxide for $663,000, and 1,919 kg of tantalum carbide powder for $161 million. The DNSC also sold (measured in contained niobium) 167,000 kg of niobium-containing materials comprising 157,000 kg of niobium concentrates and 8,980 kg of niobium ingot for $233,000 (Defense National Stockpile Center, 2006b, p. 10-11; Holder, 2006).
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