Tantalum is a rare blue-grey and lustrous transition metal which has high corrosion resistant tendencies. It is a chemical element denoted by the symbol Ta and identified by the atomic number 73.
The metal was previously known as tantalium named after a villain in Greek mythology may be to represent the characteristics of the metal
Tantalum falls under group 5 of metals referred to as refractory metals whose alloys are mostly used in the making of minor components.
The top three producers of the metal are Brazil Rwanda and China but the top three reserve holders are Australia, Mozambique, and Brazil. Its market was valued at about 2.3 kilotons in 2020 while its market was projected at a CAGR of 6% for the period 2021-2026 but the current COVID-19 Pandemic has halted the growth.
The metal is described as a conflict resource and has linked the metal to wars especi9ally in Africa with some of its components coming from Zaire. Therefore, there has not been a steady rise in the prices of the metal. The 2020 price in the US has was $158,000 per metric tones.
The metal is used widely in making non-corrosive components in the industrial, electrical, mechanical, and medical worlds. It is preferred in the medical world even for implants because it does not corrode and is not toxic when in contact with biological matter.
The metal can be molded into different products as listed below.
- Tantalum Ingot
Discovered in 1789 by Martin Heinrich Klaproth and the name is derived from the Arabian name zargun which means color like gold. Its metallic symbol is Zr and atomic number 40. Zirconium is a hard silvery metal and just like tantalum, it is highly resistant to corrosion. The properties put the metal to the same use as tantalum and molybdenum.
Zirconium is abundantly produced by South Africa, Australia, and China while the top three reserve holders are Australia, South Africa, and Ukraine. Its market is expected to grow at a rate of 5% CAGR, however, the pandemic will probably slow the growth.
Zr is mostly used as a casting metal because it reduces the wettability of casting sands and also does not corrode.
Peter Jacob Hjelm discovered molybdenum in 1971 while its name was derived from the Greek word molybdos, which means lead. Its metallic symbol is Mo and falls under the atomic number 42.
The metal is also a hard silvery metal that is mainly used in making alloys like steel because of its hardness, high melting point, and ability not to corrode. The alloys are later used in engine parts, drilling parts, and heating elements.
The top producers of the metal are China, the USA, and Chile, while those with the largest reserves are still the same countries. The market trend is such that the prices rose to $28,750 per metric tone. The metal is expected to grow at a rate of 4% CAGR, although the growth may be slowed down by the pandemic.