By: Pradeep J --
03 August, 2012
Tantalum metal has come under the spotlight in the international metals arena over the last couple of years. Like many others, the story of tantalum begins with the global financial crisis of 2008. During the crisis major tantalum producers across the world such as Global Advanced Metals (GAM) suspended production at their plants in Australia, which was followed by closure of two more major mines, due to weak demand and cost reduction measures in the supply chain of the electronics industry (the major end-user of tantalum). The electronics industry began to source processed tantalum from producers who purchased cheap tantalum mined in regions like Central Africa, mostly from the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). Things were business as usual, until the US introduced the Dodd-Frank Act which required that companies do the due diligence to remove any conflict minerals, sourced from the war torn zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo, from their supply chain, and also report it to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Due to the global scale of many electronics companies, most of them scrambled to ensure that their supply chain was conflict mineral free. Consequently global prices of tantalum started to witness dramatic increases due to twin factors of mine closures in other regions of the world and the US legislation, with prices hitting USD 150 per pound during 2011.