Description: A refractory metal with unique electrical, chemical, and physical properties that is used mostly as tantalum metal powder in the production of electronic components, mainly tantalum capacitors. Alloyed with other metals, tantalum is also used in making cemented carbide tools for metal working equipment, and in the production of superalloys for jet engine components. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Congo (Kinshasa), Ethiopia, and Rwanda are leading tantalum ore producers. There is no tantalum mine production in the United States. The sample photograph is tantalite, a source for tantalum.
Sources: Tantalum is recovered from ore minerals such as columbite and tantalite. The United States has no high-grade tantalum ores. In fact, no significant tantalum ores have been mined in the U.S. since 1959. Uses:
About 20% of the tantalum used in the United States comes from recycling. The rest must be imported. Recent major sources for tantalum imports were Australia, Kazakhstan, Canada, China, Thailand, and others.
The electronics industry uses most of the tantalum consumed to make electronic components (tantalum capacitors). Since tantalum is so resistant to corrosion, it is used to make surgical instruments and medical equipment such as rods to attach to broken bones, skull plates, and wire meshes to help repair nerves and muscles.