World reserves

Tantalum in Latin America

Summary: According to a recent report elaborated by the international agency Tantalite-Niobium International Study Center (TIC), South America utilized 285 million pounds of these important minerals in the electronic and aeronautic industry. This corresponds to 40 % of the world reserves of approximately 698 million lbs. Most of these reserves are found in Brazil (Fig. 1), Bolivia, Colombia and Argentina. Existing mining laws regulate the royalties and the limit values of the environmental impact of mining raw materials. However, except for Brazil, none of these countries has the technological capacity to refine the products locally, so they have to export the raw ore to countries such as Germany, United Kingdom, China, Korea and Japan, without any added value.


Although tantalum deposits were first identified in surface studies made in 1996, it was the latest increase in international demand and the increase in price to 60 000 US$/t that recently spurred mining by private companies. According to studies by a British company, Bolivia has potential deposits of tantalite which cover an area of 220 km2; they are located in the departments of Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando in the Eastern part of the country. Currently approximately ten mining companies in the department of Santa Cruz are engaged in exploration and mining operations in the regions of...

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