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- Tantalum is a
chemical element with the symbol Ta and atomic number 73. A rare, hard,
blue-grey, lustrous, transition metal, tantalum is highly
corrosion-resistant and occurs naturally in the mineral tantalite.
- Tantalum is dark,
dense, ductile, very hard, easily fabricated, and highly conductive of
heat and electricity.
- The metal is renowned
for its resistance to corrosion by acids; in fact, at temperatures below
150 °C tantalum is almost completely immune to attack by the normally
aggressive aqua regia.
- Tantalum's high
melting point of 3017 °C (boiling point 5458 °C) is exceeded only by
tungsten and rhenium for metals, and carbon.
- The extraction and
refining of tantalum, including the separation from niobium in these
various tantalum-containing mineral concentrates, is generally
accomplished by treating the ores with a mixture of hydrofluoric and
sulfuric acids at elevated temperatures.
- The filtration of the
digestion slurry, and further processing via solvent extraction using
methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) or liquid ion exchange using an amine
extractant in kerosene, produces highly purified solutions of tantalum
- The consolidation of
metal powder for ingot and processing into various metallurgical
products begins with either vacuum arc melting or electron beam melting
of metal feedstocks, comprised of powder or high purity scrap where the
elements with boiling points greater than tantalum are not present.
- The major use for
tantalum, as the metal powder, is in the production of electronic
components, mainly capacitors and some high-power resistors.
- Tantalum is also used
to produce a variety of alloys that have high melting points, are strong
and have good ductility.
- Tantalum, because of
its ductility, tantalum can be drawn into fine wires or filaments, which
are used for evaporating metals such as aluminium.
- The oxide is used to
make special high refractive index glass for camera lenses. The metal is
also used to make vacuum furnace parts.
- Increase in tantalum
prices cannot be attributed to a real deficit in the tantalum market,
but rather to a perceived shortage caused by the ordering of additional
material in the tantalum capacitor market.
- The tantalum market
is very much dependent on the growing demand for tantalum capacitors,
representing some 60 per cent of total global tantalum demand, in the
- The market for
tantalum products in South Africa, as in other developing countries, is
- The majority of
tantalum products are imported into the country as capacitors or as part
of finished products. Approximately 35 per cent of the capacitors are
made for cellular phone manufacturers.
- The Nuweibi deposit
was mothballed due to the low Ta2O5 price and a lack of suitable
technologies capable of processing fine-grained tantalum ores.
- Gippsland's previous
Abu Dabbab metallurgical test-work, and the pilot-plant programme
currently being undertaken in Australia have demonstrated high levels of
- The Egyptian
incorporated company Tantalum Egypt is owned equally by Gippsland and
the Egyptian Geological Survey & Mining Authority.
- The provisions of Law
No. 8/1997 will also enable Tantalum Egypt to enjoy a twenty year
exemption from taxation of profits. These investment incentives shall
apply to both the Abu Dabbab and Nuweibi deposits.
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