Experts seek to streamline tantalum trading

A miner sorts minerals using water. File.

Over 150 experts from different parts of the world will convene in Kigali for a three-day meeting to discuss business development of the Tantalum-Niobium.

According to a press release from Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board (RMB), the General Assembly of the Tantalum-Niobium will attract participants from 25 countries involved in the tantalum and niobium industry supply chain.

The conference, that kicks off today, Monday, seeks to discuss mining processes including trading, processing, metal fabrication, capacitor manufacturing, recycling, other end-users such as medical, aerospace among others, according to the press release.

This is the 59th Annual General Assembly of the Tantalum-Niobium and will explore different tantalum issues, such as technological developments in tantalum and niobium applications, key factors affecting tantalum and niobium consumption in its core markets, due diligence essentials ahead of the EU’s conflict mineral regulation coming into force in January 2020.

The TIC is the trade association for the global tantalum and niobium industries. It was founded in 1974, and members cover all aspects of the tantalum and niobium industry supply chain.

According to the statement, the conference will feature technical sessions for technical presentations, a visit to a working artisanal tantalite mine and site seeing tours among others

 The RMB Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gatare, said Rwanda hosts the conference at a time when the country is carrying out transformational change in the mining sector.

“It is an opportunity to show investors in the mining sector that Rwanda is open to investments that would lead to professional exploration and mining to boost productivity of tantalum and other minerals in the country,” Gatare said

Rwanda is among the top producers of tantalum ore producing more than 60 per cent of the needed quantity onto the global market, according the official figures

Tantalum products are used in electronics such as cell phones, computers, automotive electronics, jet engine components, and nuclear reactors, among others.

Rwanda produced and exported over 2,000 tonnes of tantalum in the 2017-18 fiscal year, according to Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.

Most of Rwanda’s tantalum is mined in a mixture form with cassiterite-a tin ore. However, most of this tantalum is obtained after carrying out separation of Colton from cassiterite (tin).

In 2018, tantalum production is expected to exceed 2,500 tonnes.

Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board targets to generate $600 million this year, $800 million by 2020 and $1.5 billion by 2024 from minerals.