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TMA will honor 72 professionals with the prestigious Turnaround and Transaction of the Year Awards during a special awards celebration at The TMA Annual, taking place October at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas. TMA will honor 72 professionals with the prestigious Turnaround and Transaction of the Year Awards during a special awards celebration at The TMA Annual, taking place October at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel in Fort Worth, Texas. In contrast, Molycorp filed for bankruptcy protection in late June (Dickson, f) after voluntarily deferring a number of interest payments on its loans (Lazenby, ). It has declared.

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British Columbia Geological Survey Paper Preface Symposium on Strategic and Critical Materials The demand for strategic and critical materials has grown rapidly in recent years, as ever more technologically advanced devices and industrial processes make use of their unique properties.

This volume contains extended abstracts of papers presented at the Critical and Strategic Materials Symposium held in Victoria, British Columbia, November , The International Workshop on the Geology of Rare Metals, held in Victoria in , launched the TGI-4 Specialty Metals Project and brought together an international group of research scientists and industry professionals.

Interest in specialty metals was peaking in owing to their growing global demand, high value, declining exports from China, and the ongoing challenges of finding new deposits. These factors created a window of opportunity for Canada to establish itself as a world leader in specialty metal exploration and, potentially, exploitation given the favourable geology in parts of Canada.

The two main components of the TGI-4 Specialty Metals Project included: 1 a review of specialty metal ore deposits and their mineral economics in Canada; and 2 the development of techniques to guide exploration towards ore-grade zones.

Studies of these critical and strategic materials will form the basis of a new project supported by the fifth iteration of the Targeted Geoscience Initiative Program TGI This volume is a record of the Symposium proceedings with papers on a variety of topics including: the uses, markets, and resources for select critical materials; carbonatites and related mineralization; peralkaline intrusion-related mineralization; rare earth elements, graphite, recent developments in exploration and analytical methods, and regional geological studies.

George Simandl organized the Symposium. The Survey team consisted of Melanie Mitchell, Dr. We appreciate the support of both organizations and especially the encouragement of Mike Villeneuve during the early stages of Symposium development. We acknowledge with thanks the many authors of the contributions who laboured under editorial pressure to submit their contributions in a timely manner.

Stephen M. Table of Contents Williams-Jones, A. Selected critical materials: Uses, markets, and resources Simandl, G. Saxon, M. Dickson, J. Rare earth elements: Global market overview. Niobium and tantalum: Geology, markets, and supply chains. Miller, R. Pantellerite-hosted rare earth element mineralization in southeast Labrador: The Foxtrot deposit Paradis, S.

Indium, germanium and gallium in volcanicand sediment-hosted base-metal sulphide deposits. Williams-Jones, A. The hydrothermal mobility of the rare earth elements. Simandl, G. Carbonatites and related exploration targets. Hydrothermal fractionation of the rare earth elements and the genesis of the Lofdal REE deposit, Namibia. Rukhlov, A. Foley, N. REE enrichment in granitederived regolith deposits of the Southeastern United States: Prospective source rocks and accumulation processes.

Verplanck, P. Nd and Sr isotopic composition of rare earth element mineralized carbonatites. Perreault, S. Solgadi, F. Tremblay, J. Verbaan, N. A review of hydrometallurgical flowsheets considered in current REE projects. Graphite Simandl, G. Graphite deposit types, their origin, and economic significance. Friis, H. Conly, A. Geology, ore characteristics, and origin of the Albany graphite deposit Indepth study on carbon speciation focussed on graphite.

Regional Sappin, A. Exploration and analytical methods Winterburn, P. Exploration geochemistry: Principles and practices for the strategic commodities Nb, Ta, Zr, and rare earth elements.

Using gamma ray spectrometry to find rare metals. Visible to shortwave infrared reflectance spectroscopy of rare earth element minerals. Biogeochemical methods to explore for carbonatites and related mineral deposits: An orientation survey, Blue River area, British Columbia, Canada. Recommended citation: Simandl, G. These definitions are more or less in line with current European use e.

In North America, Ishee et al. However, the same publication Ishee et al. Herein we summarize lists of critical and strategic materials prepared by the European Commission EC , the US Department of Defense DoD , and the US Department of Energy DoE , emphasizing that lists of critical and strategic materials differ, based on whether the criticality analyses is being applied to the general economy EC , the military DoD , or clean-air technologies DoE , and that these lists change through time due to technological breakthroughs, political pressures and instabilities, and depletion of resources.

Introduction Raw materials are essential to the global economy and for maintaining and improving our quality of life. Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the use and demand for metals or industrial minerals used in high-technology products. Availability of these materials at competitive prices is essential for advances in high-technology products, cleanenergy technology, and commercializing new inventions. Most demand and supply analyses emphasize technical, economic, environmental, and social parameters, and technologic breakthroughs.

For many materials e. For other materials e. Factors such as authoritarian regimes, monopolyor oligopoly-type market conditions, political instability, and potential or existing regional conflicts can threaten reliable supply, and analyses must account for these risks. Furthermore, some high-technology metals are derived as a by-product of base-metal extraction e. Supply of these metals is tied directly to production levels of related base metals. Their level of production cannot be easily increased independently of the main base-metal co-product without a major increase in their price.

Case studies 2. Some deposits in densely populated areas are undeveloped due to strict environmental regulations. Therefore, discovery, permitting, and development of new mines in Central and Western Europe appear more 1. Securing reliable access to raw materials at competitive prices is an ongoing concern for most industrialized European countries e.

The European Commission released its first report on critical raw materials for the EU in , updating it in European Commission, , a, b , with plans to produce revised versions every three years. The methodology used in both studies is identical. Economic importance was determined by assessing the proportion of each material associated with industrial mega-sectors at an EU level.

The total was then scaled according to the total EU GDP to define an overall economic importance for the material. The WGI includes factors such as voice and accountability, political stability and absence of violence, government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, and control of corruption European Commission, a.

Both iterations identified critical metals in terms of two key factors: 1 importance to the economy of the European Union; and 2 an estimate of the level of risk associated with supply of each material under consideration. The study identified 14 materials as critical from a starting list of 41 non-energy, non-food materials. The study started with a list of 54 materials and identified 19 as critical Fig.

The extended list included 7 new abiotic materials and 4 biotic materials, including coking coal. For the purpose of this document, biotic materials are omitted.

Tantalum and Sc were downgraded to non-critical in the study. Critical inorganic materials for the European Union. Criticality field in yellow, individual critical materials as red dots. Modified from European Commission a. Projected shortfalls for 23 critical and strategic materials identified by US Department of Defense. All shortfall values in US dollars. After US Department of Defense The criticality of these materials was assessed for the periods to and to Both assessments were based on: 1 the importance to clean energy; and 2 the level of supply risk.

In the assessment for to Fig. In the earlier assessment period, Li was judged as non-critical, whereas Ce, La, Te, and In were classified as near-critical.

Dy, Eu, Nd, Tb, and Y remained on the critical list during both assessment periods. Table 1. Results of four criticality studies discussed in the paper. US DoE divided results into critical and near-critical; near-critical materials are shown by unfilled circles. Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of four criticality studies released since The list of strategic and critical materials prepared for the US Department of Defense reported 23 materials as strategic and critical, including SiC, fused Al2O3, fluorspar, 7 REE one of them not shown on Table 1 , 10 metals, and 3.

US Department of Energy criticality matrix of 16 elements for , based on importance to clean energy and supply risk. Modified from US Department of Energy Thirteen materials are common to at least three of the studies and only three elements Dy, Tb, and Y are common to all four studies. Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, p.

US Department of Energy, Critical Materials Strategy. Office of Policy and International Affairs, p. Which materials are considered critical depends to a large extent on the priorities and objectives of the organization or country that commissions the study.

The lists of critical and strategic materials produced by the European Commission and , the US Department of Defense , and the US Department of Energy differ significantly and illustrate this point.

The longest list of critical materials comes from the European Commission , which considered risks to overall economy, and was broad in focus. The shortest list comes from the highly focused study of the US Department of Energy, which considered only the supply risks for materials essential to develop clean air technologies. Lists of critical materials change with time because of breakthroughs in technology, political instabilities in major producing countries, environmental pressures, and discovery, development, or exhaustion of resources.

References cited. British Geological Survey, Risk list An update to supply risk index for elements or element groups that are of economic value. Erdman, L. European Commission, Critical raw materials for the EU, 85p.

European Commission, a. Report on critical raw materials for the EU, 41p. European Commission, b. Annexes to the report on critical raw materials for the EU, 38p. Ishee, J. Going critical: being strategic with our mineral resources. Department of the Interior, U. Geological Survey. US Department of Defense, Strategic and critical materials report on stockpile requirements.

Office of the Under 4 Symposium on critical and strategic materials. Recommended citation: Dickson, J. World mine production of rare earth oxides REO for is estimated at approximately , tonnes, including Y2O3, which accounts for tonnes of the total Gambogi, a, b. The United States historically dominated production. However, its position declined throughout the late s and s Xie, ; Simandl, Many metals, many uses, many deposit types REE are used in permanent magnets, catalytic converters, polishing powders, fluorescent and arc lighting, lighter flints, lantern mantles, and data storage devices Royal Society of Chemistry, ; Humphries, ; Haque et al.

REE have distinct uses and are not easily substituted. Assuming favourable market conditions in the future, REE could be derived as a by-product of phosphate fertilizer production Dickson, c , uranium ore Barkley et al.

Recycling is a potential future source of REE Haque et al. Small quantities of REE are also derived from placer deposits and the Lovozero peralkaline intrusion-related deposit Simandl, ; Wall, During this period of high prices, REE users switched to less expensive, more reliably sourced substitutes, and the search for alternative materials accelerated Elmquist, ; Loh et al.

Cerium, in particular, was replaced by other polishing powder materials, or was recycled Elmquist, ; Loh et al. The pricing corrections that followed the spike, as oversupply took hold and demand dissipated, were as severe as the steep increases leading to While intermittent rallies have occurred since , the downward trend in pricing has continued into Industrial Minerals, Investor interest Investor interest in REE remains substantial after the correction and many projects being planned in remain active.

Over 50 deposits are in advanced stages of development Technology Metals Research, The REE industry remains highly fluid and is prone to disruption by technological advancement, which is less common in more established markets. As a highly complex set of chemical products with distinct uses and markets, project viability assessment is more complex for REE than for many other materials.

Some of the parameters critical to understanding economic viability are: proprietary or licensed processing technologies; the relative proportion of each rare earth in a deposit and thus projected rare earth basket prices; overall grade; and mineralogy Bogner, ; Hatch, Boom and bust In , a territorial dispute regarding the Japanadministered, China-claimed Senkaku Islands boiled over after a Chinese trawler collided with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in Senkaku Island waters.

These actions precipitated a spike in REE prices, and the shares of associated companies Dickson and Syrett, Industrial Minerals REE prices. Ce used primarily in alloys are both in oversupply Kennedy, ; Mackowski, Many junior explorers seek to remove the two elements from the processing chain to minimize processing costs Dickson, d. They are considering stockpiling the material once in production, in anticipation of improved markets. However, in the medium term Ce and La are likely to remain in oversupply.

The proportion of REE consumed in the magnet sector is rising, as is the proportion of value derived from Nd and other magnet metals Fig. The optimism for magnet demand is tempered by reports that, despite expanding magnet industry consumption of REE, including Nd, stockpiled material is difficult to sell Syrett, Dysprosium, used in NdFeB magnets to prevent denaturing at high temperatures, could potentially be substituted by lower-priced Ce co-doped with cobalt Pathak et al.

In percentage terms, the value of Dy consumed is likely to fall against other REE used in magnets Fig. Europium, one of the higher-priced REE, also has the potential to recede as alternative products and processes emerge. Previously used in cathode ray tube CRT television sets before the appearance of modern plasma and liquid crystal display LCD screens, today Eu finds use in fluorescent bulbs and strip-lights to increase the warmth of the light emitted.

The emergence of even more energy efficient light emitting diodes LEDs could see prices fall in the medium term, although supply tightening may offset this effect Dickson, e.

Processing technologies Recognizing the technological and financial hurdles represented by on-site processing, junior companies are increasingly looking towards established REE processors and specialist chemical companies for joint venture and offtake opportunities e. A number of innovative processing technologies are promoted by junior research and mining companies for a review of processing methods, see Verbaan et al. HREE are supplied almost exclusively by southern China and remain in tight supply.

Additionally, with venture capital flowing into batteries and high-technology companies, interest in REE permanent magnets. Recent developments in China Toward the end of the s, China began to plan and implement a policy of consolidation to dampen the environmentally damaging effects of REE production in China Folger, , simplify regulation of the sector Rubenstein, ; Sylvester, , and conserve a non-renewable natural resource Morrison and Tang, Torrisi, b.

The Chinese government also hopes that consolidation, stronger local government regulations, and the elimination of illegal mining and smuggling will reduce REE oversupply Jacobsen, The shift towards resource taxes, mining quota, and consolidation may help the Chinese government to exert further control over the industry, possibly making it more opaque while changing little e.

From Technology Metals Research Some REO register only trace concentrations, hence the cluster of data points at the base of the chart. Only Lu at Mountain Pass is below the detection limit. The permanent magnet sector is, proportionally, increasing in importance on a total consumption value basis. The relative consumption value of each REO compared to the total industry consumption value from Industrial Minerals Company of Australia, The proportion of value in the Nd and Pr markets is expected to increase, primarily at the expense of La, Ce, and Eu.

Middle-heavy REE resource taxes were. China has started to encourage value addition in its domestic REE industry. Nd and Pr are set to increase in relative consumption value among all REE used in magnets. Broad, W. Mining the Seafloor for Rare Earth Minerals. The New York Times. Connelly, N. The Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge. Desharnais, G. SGS Canada Inc. Tanatalus CEO: rare earths projects should be assessed by magnet potential.

Industrial Minerals. China to produce , tonnes rare earths in EuroChem reveals phosphate expansion plans at Kovdor and beyond. Greenland Minerals and Energy aims to rival rare earths suppliers to Europe by Molycorp files voluntarily for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, delisting to follow.

In contrast, Molycorp filed for bankruptcy protection in late June Dickson, f after voluntarily deferring a number of interest payments on its loans Lazenby, Acknowledgments Suggestions and edits by Carlee Akam British Columbia Geological Survey greatly improved the content and clarity of this document.

Agence France-Presse, China blocked exports of rare earth metals to Japan, traders claim. The Daily Telegraph. Associated Press, China scraps quotas on rare earths after WTO complaint. The Guardian. Barkley, D. Dynamic chromatographic systems for the determination of rare earths and thorium in samples from uranium ore refining processes.

Analytical chemistry, 58, Belli, P. Nuclear Physics A, , 15— Bogner, S. Rockstone Research Ltd. Elmquist, S. Folger, T. National Geographic. Fraden, J. Handbook of modern sensors: physics, designs, and applications. Gambogi, J. Rare Earths. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, pp. Haque, N. Rare earth elements: Overview of mining, mineralogy, uses, sustainability and environmental impact.

Resources, 3, Hatch, G. Hedrick, J. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries. Humphries, M. Rare earth elements: the global supply chain. Congressional Research Service, Industrial Minerals, Industrial Minerals Pricing Database. IMCOA , March Quarterly company report. Provided by Peak Resources Ltd. Jacobsen, J. Analysts: Chinese consolidation of rare earths sector to have limited impact on global market.

North Square Blue Oak Ltd. Kanazawa, Y. Rare earth minerals and resources in the world. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, , Kennedy, J. Molycorp and the Pandora Production Principle.

Seeking Alpha. Koschinsky, A. Rare and valuable metals for high-tech applications found in. Proceedings of the 39th Underwater Mining Institute Conference. Lazenby, H. Molycorp defers second interest payment in 2 weeks. Li, A. China confirms rare earth resource tax rates.

Chinese government gives Baotou Rmb 1bn to upgrade rare earths industry. Loh, T. Lynas, Lynas half year results and finaning agreement. Lynas Corp. Mackowski, S. The future of the non-Chinese rare earth market. Miller, J. Molycorp Files for Bankruptcy Protection. The Wall Street Journal.

Morrison, W. Economic and Trade Implications for the United States. Congressional Research Service. Ochsenkuhn-Petropulu, M.

Recovery of lanthanides and yttrium from red mud by selective leaching. Analytica Chimica Acta, 1 , Papangelakis, V. Pathak, A. Advanced Materials 27 16 , Reddall, B. Analysis: Search for rare earth substitutes gathers pace. Royal Society of Chemistry, Periodic Table. Royal Society of Chemistry.

Rubenstein, A. Law Geology and market-dependent significance of rare earth element resources. Mineralium Deposita, 49, Sydney Morning Herald, Rare earths miner Lynas Corp achieves positive cash flow in March, shares up. Sydney Morning Herald. Sylvester, B. The Au Report. Syrett, L. Summer torpor hits industrial minerals early.

Tantalus Rare Earths, Tantalus Rare Earths AG. Technology Metals Research, Torrisi, A. Rare earths recycling and recovery: the two sides of the industry. Industrial Minerals, no. China to raise rare earths tax and complete industry consolidation.

Wall, F. Rare earth elements. In: Gunn, G. Wallace, R. Lynas survival a proposition, says rare earths expert. The Australian. Xie, F. A critical review on solvent extraction of rare earths from aqueous solutions. Minerals Engineering, 56, Niobium and tantalum: Geology, markets, and supply chains D.

Mackay1, 2, a and G. Recommended citation: Mackay, D. In near-surface environments, these primary deposits are commonly enriched by weathering and are also a source of placer deposits. Introduction Until , niobium Nb and tantalum Ta were on the critical metals list of the European Union European Commission, ; Both Ta and Nb have high levels of supply chain risk and even temporary disruptions in supply could be difficult to cope with. Other uses of Ta include medical implants, super alloys used in jet turbine and rocket nozzle production, corrosion prevention in chemical and nuclear plants, as a sputtering target, and in optical lenses Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, b.

These applications make Ta economically and strategically important to industrialised countries European Commission, , ; Brown et al. Niobium Nb is primarily used in high-strength lowalloy HSLA steel used extensively in the oil and gas and automotive industries. Niobium is also a major component in vacuum-grade alloys used in rocket components and other aeronautic applications Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, c.

Because most primary Nb production is restricted to a single country Brazil , security of supply is considered at risk European Commission, New sources of supply may be developed to diversify geographic location of supply for strategic reasons Mackay and Simandl, Herein we summarize the geology, market, and supply chains of Niobium and Tantalum metals. Exceptionally large pegmatite bodies e. Greenbushes, Wodgina, and Tanco can be tens of metres in thickness and extend along strike for kilometres.

These pegmatites mainly occur in orogenic settings and are associated. Most carbonatites are found in extensional intracratonic tectonic settings and less commonly at cratonic margins Woolley and Kjarsgaard, A few rare occurrences are found in oceanic settings.

They form sills, dikes, plugs, or zoned complexes such as at St. Some carbonatites specifically those found on cratonic margins are complexly deformed e. Upper Fir; Chong et al. Rarely, they form extrusive and pyroclastic aprons.

The composition of carbonate minerals in carbonatite complexes can range from calcite through dolomite to magnesite, siderite, and ankerite Woolley, ; Mitchell, ; Woolley and Kjarsgaard, Many carbonatite complexes, such as St.

Lunate, semi-circular, or concentric rock units are formed by successive phases of igneous intrusion, and common in carbonatite Mitchell, ; Woolley and Kjarsgaard, Alkali-rich hydrothermal fluids from carbonatite intrusions commonly produce envelopes of sodic or potassic alteration, or fenitization Heinrich, ; Le Bas, The degree of fenitization decreases with distance from the carbonatite.

Recognition of the fenitization zones increases the size of the carbonatite exploration target Mackay and Simandl, Pegmatites hosting Ta deposits that have been exploited in the past e. Pegmatitic phases of peralkaline and carbonatite complexes share many characteristics with NYF pegmatites Martin and De Vito, ; Martin, , and have the potential to be mineralized in Nb, REE, and other rare-elements e.

Strange Lake, Canada. These granites are small vertically zones intrusions covering surface areas from 0. Characteristic rock forming minerals in rareelement-enriched granites include quartz, plagioclase, alkali feldspar, and accessory minerals such as biotite, muscovite, garnet, cordierite, staurolite, aluminosilicates, mullite, topaz, tourmaline, spinel, and corundum Clarke, The Yichun granite in China Lin et al.

They are also characterized by sodic phases such as aegirine, reibeckite, arfvedsonite, and albite. Agpaitic intrusions can be broadly subdivided into two categories: 1 layered intrusions, which display rhythmic or microrhythmic layering e. More elaborate classifications involving mineralogical and genetic All the deposits, including pegmatites, can be further enriched by weathering e.

These high-grade deposits generally have relatively low tonnage compared to peralkaline deposits. Peralkaline complexes have the largest resource in terms of total tonnage e. Ghurayyah, and the Aires prospect, Motzfeldt. These peralkaline complexes are in early to moderate stages of exploration; none produce Ta. The highest Nb2O5 grades and tonnages Fig. Peralkaline-related deposits also represent significant tonnage and Nb2O5 content e.

Detailed description of these different styles of intrusion are beyond the scope of this paper see detailed examples in Mackay and Simandl, and references therein. Tantalum and niobium ore minerals The most common Nb and Ta ore minerals are pyrochlore supergroup minerals, columbite-tantalite series minerals, struvereite, loparite, and euxenite.

Columbite-tantalite series minerals from LCT pegmatites and peraluminous granites are not well constrained and slightly overlap with columbite- Fe from carbonatites.

Minerals from carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, peraluminous granites, and LCT pegmatites display a slight compositional overlap. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate how pyrochlore supergroup and tantalitecolumbite series concentrates produced from carbonatites and peralkaline complexes have low Ta content relative to concentrates produced from LCT pegmatites and peraluminous granite.

These figures, in conjunction with the current Ta and Nb concentrate pricing practices see below , indicate that carbonatites and peralkaline complexes are unlikely to become sources of Ta in the foreseeable future. Markets and sources 4. Introduction of coltan and inexpensive artisanally mined concentrates have undercut prices and resulted in several major past producers e. Production is currently suspended at the Kenticha mine Ethiopia during renovations and expansions Tantalum Niobium International Study Center, a; Elenilto Mining, ; Papp, a.

World production of Ta from mining excluding production from Ta contained in Sn slags for was roughly tonnes of metal content Fig.

World Ta production began to increasing in By the year , an increase in demand and perceived shortfall and instability in supply caused spot prices. The level of confidence for resource and reserve estimates from many deposits in South America and Africa is less than for well-defined deposits in North America and Australia. Information from many deposits in China and Russia are lacking and these deposits are not included in Figure 3.

Overall, the highest Ta2O5 grades Fig. Composition of columbite-tantalite series minerals in carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, LCT pegmatites, and peraluminous granites. Modified from Mackay and Simandl Tantalum production from Sn placer deposits in Thailand is not considered in Figure 4.

The Pitinga deposit is hosted in a peralkaline unit within a predominantly peraluminous granite Nardi et al. Infrastructure and permitting and, in some cases, mining and processing equipment are in place at most past-producing mines currently on care and maintenance. Favourable market conditions could see these mines reopen, giving them a head start and low starting cost advantage over grass roots Ta exploration projects.

Pegmatites, rare-element-enriched peraluminous granites, their weathered equivalents, and placers remain the most favourable hosts for undiscovered economically significant Ta resources Mackay and Simandl, Some carbonatite-hosted deposits are also promoted based on the recovery of Ta as a co-product of Nb, such as the Upper Fir Chong et al.

Compositional fields for pyrochlore supergroup minerals from carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, LCT pegmatites, and peraluminous granites. Nomenclature of Atencio et al. Any loss of Nb production in Brazil would drastically impact the economies of most modern industrialised nations. A few Nb deposits are on care and maintenance or have existing infrastructure and could be restarted quickly. Nechalacho and Strange Lake is technically possible but unlikely under current REE market conditions.

These super alloys are essential for rocket and jet engine components used in the space and aviation industries Papp, b. In response, production increased in the dominant supplier nation, Australia Mackay and Simandl, Higher Ta2O5 concentrate prices may be related to shortages of conflictfree concentrate, the high economic importance of Ta, and high supply risk European Commission, Tantalum was recently removed from the critical metals list of the European Union.

The supply risk for Ta remains elevated relative to other economically significant metals such as Cu or Fe European Commission, Tantalum sources Lithium-cesium-tantalum LCT pegmatites and related weathered crusts, rare-element-enriched granites, and placer deposits account for most Ta production Mackay and Simandl, Other historical sources of Ta ores include peraluminous granites e. Grades and tonnages of a Ta and b Nb deposits associated with carbonatite complexes, pegmatites, peralkaline complexes, and rareelement granites.

Diagonal lines indicate tonnage of Ta2O5 and Nb2O5. Grade and tonnage references are available in Mackay and Simandl and in updates based on Gippsland a, b , Vallieres et al. Nb2O5 began to rise rapidly in Mackay and Simandl, Higher prices since coincide with increased production, indicating a growing demand for Nb in HSLA steel worldwide. Mine production of Nb has increased rapidly over the last 15 years, from 18, tonnes of contained Nb in to tonnes in , down slightly from 68, tonnes in Fig.

Outside of Brazil, the St. Niobium is predominantly derived from weathering-enriched material associated with carbonatite complexes e. The value of concentrate is based on Ta2O5 content; Nb2O5 is commonly ignored.

When sold for production of ferroniobium Ta is ignored, as it cannot be removed. Additionally, some Ta and Nb concentrates may have non-negligible U and Th content. High concentrations of these elements require extra health and environmental precautions during mining, concentrate transportation, and processing Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, b.

Multiple co-products are perceived to insulate a project from economic downturns as REE, Nb, Ta, and Zr are used in different products. However, complex metallurgy commonly results in high capital and plant operating costs Mackay and Simandl, The potential for Nb recovery as a co-product of Zr and REE from peralkaline complexes is determined to a large extent by the mineralogy, mineral chemistry, texture, and particle size and is deposit specific as illustrated by Nechalacho Ciuculescu et al.

Metallurgical aspects of Ta and Nb deposits are covered in detail by Shaw and Goodenough and Linnen et al. World mine production metric tonnes of contained Ta metal excluding Ta recovered as a by-product of Sn mining by country in Values for Rwanda and Congo updated on May 14, Data from Papp a.

Summary Tantalum availability, in the short to medium term, may be affected by increasing resistance to use of conflict materials. Pegmatites, peraluminous granites, weathered crusts, and placers account for most primary Ta production. Should the gap in Ta availability persist, large-scale mechanized mining of pegmatite-hosted Ta-bearing deposits, such as at Greenbushes and Wodgina Australia , which are currently on care-and-maintenance, are likely to return into production.

World mine production of contained Nb metal by country from Data compiled from Papp b. Niobium ore is rarely produced from unweathered carbonatite deposits e. Future co-production of Nb with REEs is being considered at several carbonatite complexes such as St.

Gosen, Similarly, co-production of Nb with phosphate may increase economic viability at deposits such as Prairie Lake, Canada Nuinsco Resources Ltd. Straaten, ; and Sukulu, Uganda KaragambeKaliiza, Suggestions by David L. Trueman consulting geologist are greatly appreciated. Ta and Nb concentrate pricing considerations The Nb and Ta markets are limited. Prices of Ta and Nb concentrates are set for each contract by negotiations between Accessed 11 Dec Clarke, D.

The mineralogy of peraluminous granites: a review. Canadian Mineralogist, 19, 1— Duplessis, C. Niobium and tantalum resource estimation update of the Crevier deposit MDN Inc.

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Geokhimya, 5, — Ginsberg, A. The geological condition of the location and the formation of granitic pegmatites. Proceedings of the 27th International Geological Congress, 15, — Gippsland Limited a Abu Dabbab Tantalum. Accessed 11 Sept Gippsland Limited b Nuweibi—tantalum, niobium, feldspar. Accessed 11 Sept Gowans, R.

NI 43— technical report on the prefeasibility study for the Strange Lake property, Quebec, Canada. Quest Rare Metals Ltd. Toronto, Canada. Accessed 13 Dec Hassan, W. Geochemistry and mineralogy of Ta-Nb rutile from Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Southeast Asian Earth Science, 10, Hatcher, M. The greenbushes pegmatite, South-West Western Australia.

Mineralogical Association of Canada Short Course, — Greenbushes tin—tantalum— lithium deposit. In: Hughes, F. Heinrich, E. Infinite variations on fenite theme. Indian Mineral, Sukheswala, volume — Horbe, M. Geochemical characteristics of cryolite-tin-bearing granites from the Pitinga Mine, northwestern Brazil - A review.

Journal of Geochemical Exploration, 40, — Jahns, R. The study of pegmatites. Johan, V. Mineralogy and Petrology, 51, — Karagambe-Kaliiza, F. The Sukulu phosphate deposits, South-Eastern Uganda. In: Bell, K.

Unwin Hyman, London, pp — Lafleur, P. NI 43— technical report to present the mineral resources of the rare earth elements zone Niobec mine. Accessed 12 Dec Le Bas, M. Fenites associated with carbonatites. Anhaeusser, C. Archean metallogeney in Southern Africa. Economic Geology, 71, 16— Anglo American PLC, Annual Report Anglo American PLC. London, UK. The Pyrochlore Supergroup of Minerals: Nomenclature. The Canadian Mineralogist, 48, Barbarin, B.

Granitoids: Main petrogenetic classification in relation to origin and tectonic setting. Geological Journal, 25, — Bastos Neto, A. Canadian Mineralogist, 47, — Birkett, T. Carbonatite-associated deposits. Breaks, F. Fertile peraluminous granites and related rare-element mineralisation in pegmatites, Superior Province, Northwest and Northeast Ontario: Operation Treasure Hunt.

Brown, T. World mineral production — British Geological Survey, Keyworth, 78 p. Pegmatite studies. The Tanco pegmatite, southeastern Manitoba. Rare-element granitic pegmatites part I anatomy and internal evolution of pegmatite deposits.

Geoscience Canada, 18, 49— Rare-element granitic pegmatites part II regional to global environments and petrogenesis. Geoscience Canada, 18, 68— Some recent advances in the mineralogy and geochemistry of Nb and Ta in rare-element granitic pegmatites. Bulletin of Mineralogy, , — Mineralogy of niobium and tantalite: Crystal chemical relationships, paragenetic aspects and their economic implications.

Springer-Verlag, Berlin, The classification of granitic pegmatites revisited. Canadian Mineralogist, 43, — Fertile granites in the Archean and Proterozoic fields of rare-element pegmatites, crustal environment, geochemistry and petrogenetic relationships.

In: Taylor, R. Chong, A. Blue River tantalum-niobium project, British Columbia, Canada. NI Technical Report. Commerce Resource Corp. Vancouver, Canada, June 22, Ciuculescu, T. Technical report disclosing the results of the feasibility study on the Nechalacho rare earth elements project. Papp, J. Niobium columbium. In the assessment for to Fig. In the earlier assessment period, Li was judged as non-critical, whereas Ce, La, Te, and In were classified as near-critical.

Dy, Eu, Nd, Tb, and Y remained on the critical list during both assessment periods. Table 1. Results of four criticality studies discussed in the paper.

US DoE divided results into critical and near-critical; near-critical materials are shown by unfilled circles. Summary Table 1 summarizes the results of four criticality studies released since The list of strategic and critical materials prepared for the US Department of Defense reported 23 materials as strategic and critical, including SiC, fused Al2O3, fluorspar, 7 REE one of them not shown on Table 1 , 10 metals, and 3.

US Department of Energy criticality matrix of 16 elements for , based on importance to clean energy and supply risk. Modified from US Department of Energy Thirteen materials are common to at least three of the studies and only three elements Dy, Tb, and Y are common to all four studies.

Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, p. US Department of Energy, Critical Materials Strategy. Office of Policy and International Affairs, p. Which materials are considered critical depends to a large extent on the priorities and objectives of the organization or country that commissions the study.

The lists of critical and strategic materials produced by the European Commission and , the US Department of Defense , and the US Department of Energy differ significantly and illustrate this point.

The longest list of critical materials comes from the European Commission , which considered risks to overall economy, and was broad in focus. The shortest list comes from the highly focused study of the US Department of Energy, which considered only the supply risks for materials essential to develop clean air technologies.

Lists of critical materials change with time because of breakthroughs in technology, political instabilities in major producing countries, environmental pressures, and discovery, development, or exhaustion of resources. References cited. British Geological Survey, Risk list An update to supply risk index for elements or element groups that are of economic value.

Erdman, L. European Commission, Critical raw materials for the EU, 85p. European Commission, a. Report on critical raw materials for the EU, 41p. European Commission, b. Annexes to the report on critical raw materials for the EU, 38p.

Ishee, J. Going critical: being strategic with our mineral resources. Department of the Interior, U. Geological Survey. US Department of Defense, Strategic and critical materials report on stockpile requirements.

Office of the Under 4 Symposium on critical and strategic materials. Recommended citation: Dickson, J. World mine production of rare earth oxides REO for is estimated at approximately , tonnes, including Y2O3, which accounts for tonnes of the total Gambogi, a, b.

The United States historically dominated production. However, its position declined throughout the late s and s Xie, ; Simandl, Many metals, many uses, many deposit types REE are used in permanent magnets, catalytic converters, polishing powders, fluorescent and arc lighting, lighter flints, lantern mantles, and data storage devices Royal Society of Chemistry, ; Humphries, ; Haque et al.

REE have distinct uses and are not easily substituted. Assuming favourable market conditions in the future, REE could be derived as a by-product of phosphate fertilizer production Dickson, c , uranium ore Barkley et al. Recycling is a potential future source of REE Haque et al. Small quantities of REE are also derived from placer deposits and the Lovozero peralkaline intrusion-related deposit Simandl, ; Wall, During this period of high prices, REE users switched to less expensive, more reliably sourced substitutes, and the search for alternative materials accelerated Elmquist, ; Loh et al.

Cerium, in particular, was replaced by other polishing powder materials, or was recycled Elmquist, ; Loh et al. The pricing corrections that followed the spike, as oversupply took hold and demand dissipated, were as severe as the steep increases leading to While intermittent rallies have occurred since , the downward trend in pricing has continued into Industrial Minerals, Investor interest Investor interest in REE remains substantial after the correction and many projects being planned in remain active.

Over 50 deposits are in advanced stages of development Technology Metals Research, The REE industry remains highly fluid and is prone to disruption by technological advancement, which is less common in more established markets. As a highly complex set of chemical products with distinct uses and markets, project viability assessment is more complex for REE than for many other materials.

Some of the parameters critical to understanding economic viability are: proprietary or licensed processing technologies; the relative proportion of each rare earth in a deposit and thus projected rare earth basket prices; overall grade; and mineralogy Bogner, ; Hatch, Boom and bust In , a territorial dispute regarding the Japanadministered, China-claimed Senkaku Islands boiled over after a Chinese trawler collided with a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in Senkaku Island waters. These actions precipitated a spike in REE prices, and the shares of associated companies Dickson and Syrett, Industrial Minerals REE prices.

Ce used primarily in alloys are both in oversupply Kennedy, ; Mackowski, Many junior explorers seek to remove the two elements from the processing chain to minimize processing costs Dickson, d. They are considering stockpiling the material once in production, in anticipation of improved markets. However, in the medium term Ce and La are likely to remain in oversupply. The proportion of REE consumed in the magnet sector is rising, as is the proportion of value derived from Nd and other magnet metals Fig.

The optimism for magnet demand is tempered by reports that, despite expanding magnet industry consumption of REE, including Nd, stockpiled material is difficult to sell Syrett, Dysprosium, used in NdFeB magnets to prevent denaturing at high temperatures, could potentially be substituted by lower-priced Ce co-doped with cobalt Pathak et al. In percentage terms, the value of Dy consumed is likely to fall against other REE used in magnets Fig.

Europium, one of the higher-priced REE, also has the potential to recede as alternative products and processes emerge. Previously used in cathode ray tube CRT television sets before the appearance of modern plasma and liquid crystal display LCD screens, today Eu finds use in fluorescent bulbs and strip-lights to increase the warmth of the light emitted.

The emergence of even more energy efficient light emitting diodes LEDs could see prices fall in the medium term, although supply tightening may offset this effect Dickson, e. Processing technologies Recognizing the technological and financial hurdles represented by on-site processing, junior companies are increasingly looking towards established REE processors and specialist chemical companies for joint venture and offtake opportunities e. A number of innovative processing technologies are promoted by junior research and mining companies for a review of processing methods, see Verbaan et al.

HREE are supplied almost exclusively by southern China and remain in tight supply. Additionally, with venture capital flowing into batteries and high-technology companies, interest in REE permanent magnets. Recent developments in China Toward the end of the s, China began to plan and implement a policy of consolidation to dampen the environmentally damaging effects of REE production in China Folger, , simplify regulation of the sector Rubenstein, ; Sylvester, , and conserve a non-renewable natural resource Morrison and Tang, Torrisi, b.

The Chinese government also hopes that consolidation, stronger local government regulations, and the elimination of illegal mining and smuggling will reduce REE oversupply Jacobsen, The shift towards resource taxes, mining quota, and consolidation may help the Chinese government to exert further control over the industry, possibly making it more opaque while changing little e.

From Technology Metals Research Some REO register only trace concentrations, hence the cluster of data points at the base of the chart. Only Lu at Mountain Pass is below the detection limit. The permanent magnet sector is, proportionally, increasing in importance on a total consumption value basis. The relative consumption value of each REO compared to the total industry consumption value from Industrial Minerals Company of Australia, The proportion of value in the Nd and Pr markets is expected to increase, primarily at the expense of La, Ce, and Eu.

Middle-heavy REE resource taxes were. China has started to encourage value addition in its domestic REE industry. Nd and Pr are set to increase in relative consumption value among all REE used in magnets. Broad, W. Mining the Seafloor for Rare Earth Minerals. The New York Times. Connelly, N. The Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge. Desharnais, G.

SGS Canada Inc. Tanatalus CEO: rare earths projects should be assessed by magnet potential. Industrial Minerals.

China to produce , tonnes rare earths in EuroChem reveals phosphate expansion plans at Kovdor and beyond. Greenland Minerals and Energy aims to rival rare earths suppliers to Europe by Molycorp files voluntarily for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, delisting to follow. In contrast, Molycorp filed for bankruptcy protection in late June Dickson, f after voluntarily deferring a number of interest payments on its loans Lazenby, Acknowledgments Suggestions and edits by Carlee Akam British Columbia Geological Survey greatly improved the content and clarity of this document.

Agence France-Presse, China blocked exports of rare earth metals to Japan, traders claim. The Daily Telegraph. Associated Press, China scraps quotas on rare earths after WTO complaint. The Guardian. Barkley, D. Dynamic chromatographic systems for the determination of rare earths and thorium in samples from uranium ore refining processes.

Analytical chemistry, 58, Belli, P. Nuclear Physics A, , 15— Bogner, S. Rockstone Research Ltd. Elmquist, S. Folger, T. National Geographic. Fraden, J. Handbook of modern sensors: physics, designs, and applications. Gambogi, J. Rare Earths. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries, pp. Haque, N. Rare earth elements: Overview of mining, mineralogy, uses, sustainability and environmental impact.

Resources, 3, Hatch, G. Hedrick, J. Geological Survey, Mineral Commodity Summaries. Humphries, M. Rare earth elements: the global supply chain. Congressional Research Service, Industrial Minerals, Industrial Minerals Pricing Database. IMCOA , March Quarterly company report. Provided by Peak Resources Ltd. Jacobsen, J. Analysts: Chinese consolidation of rare earths sector to have limited impact on global market. North Square Blue Oak Ltd.

Kanazawa, Y. Rare earth minerals and resources in the world. Journal of Alloys and Compounds, , Kennedy, J. Molycorp and the Pandora Production Principle. Seeking Alpha. Koschinsky, A. Rare and valuable metals for high-tech applications found in. Proceedings of the 39th Underwater Mining Institute Conference. Lazenby, H. Molycorp defers second interest payment in 2 weeks. Li, A. China confirms rare earth resource tax rates. Chinese government gives Baotou Rmb 1bn to upgrade rare earths industry.

Loh, T. Lynas, Lynas half year results and finaning agreement. Lynas Corp. Mackowski, S. The future of the non-Chinese rare earth market. Miller, J. Molycorp Files for Bankruptcy Protection. The Wall Street Journal. Morrison, W. Economic and Trade Implications for the United States. Congressional Research Service. Ochsenkuhn-Petropulu, M. Recovery of lanthanides and yttrium from red mud by selective leaching.

Analytica Chimica Acta, 1 , Papangelakis, V. Pathak, A. Advanced Materials 27 16 , Reddall, B. Analysis: Search for rare earth substitutes gathers pace. Royal Society of Chemistry, Periodic Table.

Royal Society of Chemistry. Rubenstein, A. Law Geology and market-dependent significance of rare earth element resources. Mineralium Deposita, 49, Sydney Morning Herald, Rare earths miner Lynas Corp achieves positive cash flow in March, shares up. Sydney Morning Herald. Sylvester, B. The Au Report. Syrett, L. Summer torpor hits industrial minerals early.

Tantalus Rare Earths, Tantalus Rare Earths AG. Technology Metals Research, Torrisi, A. Rare earths recycling and recovery: the two sides of the industry. Industrial Minerals, no. China to raise rare earths tax and complete industry consolidation. Wall, F. Rare earth elements. In: Gunn, G. Wallace, R. Lynas survival a proposition, says rare earths expert.

The Australian. Xie, F. A critical review on solvent extraction of rare earths from aqueous solutions. Minerals Engineering, 56, Niobium and tantalum: Geology, markets, and supply chains D. Mackay1, 2, a and G. Recommended citation: Mackay, D. In near-surface environments, these primary deposits are commonly enriched by weathering and are also a source of placer deposits.

Introduction Until , niobium Nb and tantalum Ta were on the critical metals list of the European Union European Commission, ; Both Ta and Nb have high levels of supply chain risk and even temporary disruptions in supply could be difficult to cope with. Other uses of Ta include medical implants, super alloys used in jet turbine and rocket nozzle production, corrosion prevention in chemical and nuclear plants, as a sputtering target, and in optical lenses Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, b.

These applications make Ta economically and strategically important to industrialised countries European Commission, , ; Brown et al. Niobium Nb is primarily used in high-strength lowalloy HSLA steel used extensively in the oil and gas and automotive industries.

Niobium is also a major component in vacuum-grade alloys used in rocket components and other aeronautic applications Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, c. Because most primary Nb production is restricted to a single country Brazil , security of supply is considered at risk European Commission, New sources of supply may be developed to diversify geographic location of supply for strategic reasons Mackay and Simandl, Herein we summarize the geology, market, and supply chains of Niobium and Tantalum metals.

Exceptionally large pegmatite bodies e. Greenbushes, Wodgina, and Tanco can be tens of metres in thickness and extend along strike for kilometres.

These pegmatites mainly occur in orogenic settings and are associated. Most carbonatites are found in extensional intracratonic tectonic settings and less commonly at cratonic margins Woolley and Kjarsgaard, A few rare occurrences are found in oceanic settings.

They form sills, dikes, plugs, or zoned complexes such as at St. Some carbonatites specifically those found on cratonic margins are complexly deformed e. Upper Fir; Chong et al. Rarely, they form extrusive and pyroclastic aprons. The composition of carbonate minerals in carbonatite complexes can range from calcite through dolomite to magnesite, siderite, and ankerite Woolley, ; Mitchell, ; Woolley and Kjarsgaard, Many carbonatite complexes, such as St.

Lunate, semi-circular, or concentric rock units are formed by successive phases of igneous intrusion, and common in carbonatite Mitchell, ; Woolley and Kjarsgaard, Alkali-rich hydrothermal fluids from carbonatite intrusions commonly produce envelopes of sodic or potassic alteration, or fenitization Heinrich, ; Le Bas, The degree of fenitization decreases with distance from the carbonatite.

Recognition of the fenitization zones increases the size of the carbonatite exploration target Mackay and Simandl, Pegmatites hosting Ta deposits that have been exploited in the past e. Pegmatitic phases of peralkaline and carbonatite complexes share many characteristics with NYF pegmatites Martin and De Vito, ; Martin, , and have the potential to be mineralized in Nb, REE, and other rare-elements e. Strange Lake, Canada. These granites are small vertically zones intrusions covering surface areas from 0.

Characteristic rock forming minerals in rareelement-enriched granites include quartz, plagioclase, alkali feldspar, and accessory minerals such as biotite, muscovite, garnet, cordierite, staurolite, aluminosilicates, mullite, topaz, tourmaline, spinel, and corundum Clarke, The Yichun granite in China Lin et al.

They are also characterized by sodic phases such as aegirine, reibeckite, arfvedsonite, and albite. Agpaitic intrusions can be broadly subdivided into two categories: 1 layered intrusions, which display rhythmic or microrhythmic layering e. More elaborate classifications involving mineralogical and genetic All the deposits, including pegmatites, can be further enriched by weathering e. These high-grade deposits generally have relatively low tonnage compared to peralkaline deposits.

Peralkaline complexes have the largest resource in terms of total tonnage e. Ghurayyah, and the Aires prospect, Motzfeldt. These peralkaline complexes are in early to moderate stages of exploration; none produce Ta.

The highest Nb2O5 grades and tonnages Fig. Peralkaline-related deposits also represent significant tonnage and Nb2O5 content e.

Detailed description of these different styles of intrusion are beyond the scope of this paper see detailed examples in Mackay and Simandl, and references therein. Tantalum and niobium ore minerals The most common Nb and Ta ore minerals are pyrochlore supergroup minerals, columbite-tantalite series minerals, struvereite, loparite, and euxenite. Columbite-tantalite series minerals from LCT pegmatites and peraluminous granites are not well constrained and slightly overlap with columbite- Fe from carbonatites.

Minerals from carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, peraluminous granites, and LCT pegmatites display a slight compositional overlap. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate how pyrochlore supergroup and tantalitecolumbite series concentrates produced from carbonatites and peralkaline complexes have low Ta content relative to concentrates produced from LCT pegmatites and peraluminous granite. These figures, in conjunction with the current Ta and Nb concentrate pricing practices see below , indicate that carbonatites and peralkaline complexes are unlikely to become sources of Ta in the foreseeable future.

Markets and sources 4. Introduction of coltan and inexpensive artisanally mined concentrates have undercut prices and resulted in several major past producers e. Production is currently suspended at the Kenticha mine Ethiopia during renovations and expansions Tantalum Niobium International Study Center, a; Elenilto Mining, ; Papp, a.

World production of Ta from mining excluding production from Ta contained in Sn slags for was roughly tonnes of metal content Fig. World Ta production began to increasing in By the year , an increase in demand and perceived shortfall and instability in supply caused spot prices. The level of confidence for resource and reserve estimates from many deposits in South America and Africa is less than for well-defined deposits in North America and Australia.

Information from many deposits in China and Russia are lacking and these deposits are not included in Figure 3. Overall, the highest Ta2O5 grades Fig. Composition of columbite-tantalite series minerals in carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, LCT pegmatites, and peraluminous granites. Modified from Mackay and Simandl Tantalum production from Sn placer deposits in Thailand is not considered in Figure 4. The Pitinga deposit is hosted in a peralkaline unit within a predominantly peraluminous granite Nardi et al.

Infrastructure and permitting and, in some cases, mining and processing equipment are in place at most past-producing mines currently on care and maintenance. Favourable market conditions could see these mines reopen, giving them a head start and low starting cost advantage over grass roots Ta exploration projects. Pegmatites, rare-element-enriched peraluminous granites, their weathered equivalents, and placers remain the most favourable hosts for undiscovered economically significant Ta resources Mackay and Simandl, Some carbonatite-hosted deposits are also promoted based on the recovery of Ta as a co-product of Nb, such as the Upper Fir Chong et al.

Compositional fields for pyrochlore supergroup minerals from carbonatites, peralkaline complexes, LCT pegmatites, and peraluminous granites. Nomenclature of Atencio et al. Any loss of Nb production in Brazil would drastically impact the economies of most modern industrialised nations. A few Nb deposits are on care and maintenance or have existing infrastructure and could be restarted quickly. Nechalacho and Strange Lake is technically possible but unlikely under current REE market conditions.

These super alloys are essential for rocket and jet engine components used in the space and aviation industries Papp, b. In response, production increased in the dominant supplier nation, Australia Mackay and Simandl, Higher Ta2O5 concentrate prices may be related to shortages of conflictfree concentrate, the high economic importance of Ta, and high supply risk European Commission, Tantalum was recently removed from the critical metals list of the European Union.

The supply risk for Ta remains elevated relative to other economically significant metals such as Cu or Fe European Commission, Tantalum sources Lithium-cesium-tantalum LCT pegmatites and related weathered crusts, rare-element-enriched granites, and placer deposits account for most Ta production Mackay and Simandl, Other historical sources of Ta ores include peraluminous granites e.

Grades and tonnages of a Ta and b Nb deposits associated with carbonatite complexes, pegmatites, peralkaline complexes, and rareelement granites. Diagonal lines indicate tonnage of Ta2O5 and Nb2O5. Grade and tonnage references are available in Mackay and Simandl and in updates based on Gippsland a, b , Vallieres et al.

Nb2O5 began to rise rapidly in Mackay and Simandl, Higher prices since coincide with increased production, indicating a growing demand for Nb in HSLA steel worldwide.

Mine production of Nb has increased rapidly over the last 15 years, from 18, tonnes of contained Nb in to tonnes in , down slightly from 68, tonnes in Fig. Outside of Brazil, the St.

Niobium is predominantly derived from weathering-enriched material associated with carbonatite complexes e. The value of concentrate is based on Ta2O5 content; Nb2O5 is commonly ignored.

When sold for production of ferroniobium Ta is ignored, as it cannot be removed. Additionally, some Ta and Nb concentrates may have non-negligible U and Th content. High concentrations of these elements require extra health and environmental precautions during mining, concentrate transportation, and processing Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center, a, b.

Multiple co-products are perceived to insulate a project from economic downturns as REE, Nb, Ta, and Zr are used in different products. However, complex metallurgy commonly results in high capital and plant operating costs Mackay and Simandl, The potential for Nb recovery as a co-product of Zr and REE from peralkaline complexes is determined to a large extent by the mineralogy, mineral chemistry, texture, and particle size and is deposit specific as illustrated by Nechalacho Ciuculescu et al.

Metallurgical aspects of Ta and Nb deposits are covered in detail by Shaw and Goodenough and Linnen et al. World mine production metric tonnes of contained Ta metal excluding Ta recovered as a by-product of Sn mining by country in Values for Rwanda and Congo updated on May 14, Data from Papp a. Summary Tantalum availability, in the short to medium term, may be affected by increasing resistance to use of conflict materials.

Pegmatites, peraluminous granites, weathered crusts, and placers account for most primary Ta production. Should the gap in Ta availability persist, large-scale mechanized mining of pegmatite-hosted Ta-bearing deposits, such as at Greenbushes and Wodgina Australia , which are currently on care-and-maintenance, are likely to return into production.

World mine production of contained Nb metal by country from Data compiled from Papp b. Niobium ore is rarely produced from unweathered carbonatite deposits e. Future co-production of Nb with REEs is being considered at several carbonatite complexes such as St. Gosen, Similarly, co-production of Nb with phosphate may increase economic viability at deposits such as Prairie Lake, Canada Nuinsco Resources Ltd.

Straaten, ; and Sukulu, Uganda KaragambeKaliiza, Suggestions by David L. Trueman consulting geologist are greatly appreciated. Ta and Nb concentrate pricing considerations The Nb and Ta markets are limited. Prices of Ta and Nb concentrates are set for each contract by negotiations between Accessed 11 Dec Clarke, D. The mineralogy of peraluminous granites: a review. Canadian Mineralogist, 19, 1— Duplessis, C. Niobium and tantalum resource estimation update of the Crevier deposit MDN Inc.

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