Just when the current stampede out of commodities seemed to shout out that demand is quickly disappearing from the face of the earth, Cabot Corp. (NYSE:CBT) announces that growing demand has pushed it to restart mining for tantalum in Canada:
Rising global demand for tantalum has caused Cabot Corp. to announce its intention to resume production of the material at its mining facility in Manitoba, Canada ….
Cabot previously suspended production at its TANCO facility in 2009, as part of the company’s commitment to manage its capacity to market demand.
"We’re currently in a period of strong market recovery and growth for tantalum…”
According to CBT’s 2010 annual report, “four capacitor materials customers represented a material portion of the net sales and operating revenues of the Supermetals Business.” CBT explains the importance and use of tantalum, the vast majority of its approximate $177M Supermetals business in FY2010, on its website:
More than 60 percent of the world’s tantalum, a high performance metal, is used in electronics products. The largest application is electronic capacitors, where tantalum’s ability to form stable oxide films creates highly efficient, highly reliable and environmentally versatile components.
In semiconductors, tantalum has emerged as an ideal barrier solution, since copper is replacing aluminum as the material of choice for interconnects.
Strength, ductility, toughness, corrosion resistance, thermal conductivity and high melting point make tantalum important in chemical and pharmaceutical processing, aerospace, energy and ballistic applications.
Tantalum is also used as alloy in turbine blades, in power turbines and jet engines, where it brings structural integrity at higher temperatures, increasing fuel efficiency.
Some four million pounds of tantalum are consumed annually in the form of metal powder and wire, ingot, fabricated forms, compounds and alloys.
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