The global tantalum market size is expected to observe steady growth over the next few years. Tantalum is a lustrous, hard, blue-gray transition metal with excellent corrosion resistant properties. It is normally found in mineral groups, such as coltan, tantalite, and columbite. The product is majorly processed from two sources including minerals and tin slag. It is used in its powder form for the production of electronic devices including resistors and capacitors. Also, it plays a key role in the manufacturing of smartphones. Thus, increasing the adoption of smartphones, specifically in developing countries, is expected to have a positive impact on market growth. Moreover, the rising adoption of technology, automation, and digital data, is expected to drive the product demand.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda are the top producers of tantalum concentrates. Other producers include Australia, Brazil, China, and Nigeria. Also, Africa accounts for more than half of the global tantalum reserves. However, the region is also under significant conflict specifically in DRC. The DRC registered nearly 17% of the global production in 2014, as per the United States Geological Survey (USGS) statistics. However, the government had little operational control over the mining of products. The armed groups dominated the mining of conflict minerals, such as tin, tungsten, and tantalum, in the country. The extracted minerals are smuggled out of the country and shipped to smelters in East Asia.
To regularize the sourcing of mineral, the European parliament voted on regulation in 2017. The regulation asks European companies to take responsibility in regards to sourcing of the mineral from high-conflict zones like DRC. The European Parliament is taking such steps to ensure that the supply chain of local companies remains clean. The regulation aims at lawfully acquiring mineral while supporting the local communities. This regulation is likely to make a huge impact on the industry’s dynamics over the next few years. Based on application, the global industry can be segmented into capacitors, superalloys, chemicals, sputtering targets, and others.
Capacitors segment led the global tantalum market in 2017, in terms of volume and revenue. The product is used in the manufacturing of electrolytic capacitors. These electrolytic capacitors are widely used in several industries including medical, space, renewable energy, and others. The growing adoption of renewable energy is likely to drive the demand for capacitors for grid integration. Superalloys are expected to be the fastest-growing segment in the global tantalum market. The product is widely used in the manufacturing of single-crystal turbine blades for aerospace and industrial gas power sectors. As per the data published by Airbus in 2017, the number of aircraft is likely to double by 2037.
Therefore, the rising demand for new aircraft for commercial operations around the world is expected to drive the segment growth over the coming years. Based on geography, the market is segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Central & South America, Europe, and Middle East & Africa. The Asia Pacific is expected to observe a significant growth owing to the rapidly expanding consumer electronics industry in the region. The Asia Pacific is among the major markets for consumer electronics owing to the presence of a large number of regional and international companies. India became the second-largest user of smartphones after China, with nearly 1 billion users as of 2018.
Some of the prominent companies in the global tantalum market are Advanced Metallurgical Group, Cabot Corporation, Alliance Mineral Assets Limited, China Minmetals Corporation, and Tantalex Resources Corp. Most of these companies are adopting smart mining techniques to increase production capacity and efficiently enhance their overall tantalum output.
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