Tantalite traded on the international market typically contains a minimum of 30% Ta2O5. Lower-grade material, minimum 20% Ta2O5, is also traded but at a discount. Tantalite is purchased and sold solely on its Ta2O5 content. Nb2O5 content is not figured into the payable value for tantalite.
If the material contains a minimum amount of 50% Nb2O5 with a small percentage of Ta2O5 it would be traded as columbite. Columbite is purchased and sold on the Nb2O5 + Ta2O5 content, known as Combined Pentoxide (CPO). Ta2O5 is not paid at a higher amount on columbite transactions.
Tantalite and columbite often contain the naturally occurring radioactive elements Thorium (ThO2) and Uranium (U308). Suppliers will need to have their materials analysed for ThO2 + U308 levels prior to loading and shipping. Materials that have >0.5% ThO2 + U308 cannot follow the same logistics routes as materials with <0.5%.
Tantalum and Niobium are not exchange-traded products and thus no ‘official’ pricing benchmark exists. However, several data services offer up-to-date pricing which has become the unofficial benchmark in the industry. They obtain market information by communicating weekly, and sometimes daily, with a large number of buyers (smelters) and suppliers to get an actual understanding of supply and demand situation and the current prices materials are trading at. Some of the better-known data providers are:
The value of a load of tantalum is calculated based on how much Ta2O5 the load contains, not the gross weight of the load. To obtain the amount of Ta2O5 in the load simply multiply the gross weight of the material by the Ta2O5 % in the load.
Example: 25 tonnes of material x 30% Ta2O5 = 7.5 tonnes (7,500kg) of Ta2O5 contained
Next, convert the kilograms (kg) to pounds (lbs). Tantalite and columbite have always been priced in $/lb of Ta2O5 or Nb2O5 and this is not likely to change anytime soon.
7,500kg Ta2O5 x 2.20462 = 16,534 lbs. (rounded down)
In this example, we’ll use a hypothetical purchase price of $55/lb Ta2O5. The calculation for this lot of material would be:
16,534 lbs Ta2O5 x $55/lb Ta2O5 = $909,370
The purchase price of the Ta2O5 ($55/lb Ta2O5) does not change just because the percent of Ta2O5 is higher or lower. Since tantalite is priced per unit of Ta2O5 contained the purchase price would be higher if the material is 40% and lower at 25% even if the price per unit of Ta2O5 ($55) does not change. An example based on the above calculations:
40% Ta2O5 contained = 10,000kg Ta2O5 = 22,046lbs Ta2O5 (rounded down)
22,046lbs Ta2O5 x $55/lb Ta2O5 = $1,212,530
25% Ta2O5 contained = 6,250kg Ta2O5 = 13,778lbs Ta2O5 (rounded down)
13,778lbs Ta2O5 x $55/lg Ta2O5 = $757,790
You will notice in all the above examples that the purchase price per unit of Ta2O5 ($55/lb) did not change even though the total purchase prices drastically changed. By applying this pricing formula the industry is able to easily quote for materials as the final price will always be determined by the % of Ta2O5 contained in the lot.
The % of Nb2O5 in tantalite has no contribution to the purchase price.
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