Tantalum

Niobium

Rare Earths

Alloys

Critical Thinking

Whilst tantalum, our primary product, is geologically associated with niobium and in the weathered pegmatites of Rwanda, we also find lithium, scandium and rare earths. 

Typically grouped together as “rare earths”, “battery metals”, or “critical metals”, by international media, the group of elements we focus on have, unfortunately, attracted plenty of attention through negative association to:  

  • Conflict minerals
  • Child labour
  • Rare earth trade war
  • Supply chain shortages for electric vehicles

It has not escaped the mainstream media that the elements upon which we focus are at the centre of international politics and it is little wonder when over $7 trillion USD of Western industry is reported to depend on them. 

To attract such complexity demonstrates their value to our future and therefore warrant a considered solution.  

Tantalum

Tantalum is a refractory metal. It possesses a very high melting point and has a high resistance to chemical corrosion making it well suited to chemical processing and high performance mechanical applications such as aerospace alloys.

It is best known for its use in electronics where its properties make it a leading choice in capacitor manufacturing, often being used in applications where failure is not an option in such things as pace makers, automotive air bags, charging systems and space exploration.

With every electric vehicle, charging station, 5G device and base station, tantalum is required and demand is increasing constantly.

The African sources of DRC and Rwanda are associated with legacy issues of conflict minerals but much has been done in recent years to address these problems.

Traceability programs have been established to ensure material provenance and help mitigate these issues.

Niobium

Geologically associated with tantalum, niobium is also a refractory metal and is most widely used as an additive in the steel industry where just one kilogram per tonne can substantially increase strength.

The relevance to our focus on sustainability is not just to maximise the use of elements associated with tantalum extraction but to ensure that niobium is made available to the steel industry supplying EV manufacturers.

Around 80% of all automotive steel sheet contains niobium as a means of steering the industry to lighter cars for better fuel efficiency or range. 

With further developments in this sector, it is not unreasonable to expect vehicle light-weighting efforts focus on niobium to help address the EV cost/range compromise.

Its other uses are in high performance alloys for turbine blades, aerospace metals, and specialist optics such as camera lenses.

Rare Earths

A group of elements typically encompassing the fifteen lanthanide group elements plus scandium and yttrium, abbreviated as REOs or REEs.

Also associated within the tantalum geological occurrence the REOs are not actually rare at all.  In fact, their occurrence in the earths crust is relatively common, however, due to their dispersed nature they are not often found as economically viable deposits by themselves.

The complexity with REOs arises from the refining process which is performed most commonly with solvent extraction processes requiring well over 1,000 individual steps.

Within our production and processing we maintain an ongoing innovation program to reduce the cost and environmental impact of refining of REOs.

Our primary focus is on scandium which we believe is fundamentally important to supporting the trends in technological development, particularly in EV range and efficiency through light-weighting of vehicle components.

Our primary focus is on scandium which we believe is fundamentally important to supporting the trends in technological development.

With proprietary know-how in unique aluminium-scandium alloy production, we are working to reduce the cost of the oxide and increase upstream supplies to prepare the industry for mass adoption in automotive light weighting applications.

The prospects of AlSc in various automotive applications could have a profound impact on vehicle range and a global reduction in carbon emissions.

Combined, the REO basket touches virtually every single piece of technology in common use today from LED lighting to computers and ovens, lasers and aeroplanes and, as innovations proceed, it is likely that more and more applications will be discovered.

Alloys

With so many applications requiring alloyed metals we have certain proprietary processes which allow us to produce unique alloys for bespoke or new industrial demands.

Niobium or scandium derived alloys are our primary technological focus but our research and development team can assist with specialist needs wherever high purity is demanded.

We have a particular interest in working with companies where product development centres around fossil fuel replacement or use-reduction.

Our primary focus is on scandium which we believe is fundamentally important to supporting the trends in technological development.

With proprietary know-how in unique aluminium-scandium alloy production, we are working to reduce the cost of the oxide and increase upstream supplies to prepare the industry for mass adoption in automotive light weighting applications.

The prospects of AlSc in various automotive applications could have a profound impact on vehicle range and a global reduction in carbon emissions.

Combined, the REO basket touches virtually every single piece of technology in common use today from LED lighting to computers and ovens, lasers and aeroplanes and, as innovations proceed, it is likely that more and more applications will be discovered.