- Fifth generation (5G) technology standard for broadband cellular networks is gaining considerable traction across many countries
- Tantalum producers are witnessing a huge surge in demand, which is being undercompensated by unreliable supply sources
- The metal is anticipated to be at the core of 5G telecommunication technology and electronics
- Arcadia is poised for ASX listing on 22 June 2021 following the completion of its initial public offering.
Tantalum, a lesser-known metal, lies at the heart of the global 5G revolution. Many globally renowned pundits have already envisaged the implementation of 5G technologies to take off soon along with trending technologies such as Edge computing, automation and electrification.
The 5G technology is anticipated to emerge as a major demand driver for tantalum in the coming years. These megatrends sweeping the world of electronics are set to grow in the medium and long term despite the pandemic-related slowdowns.
Surging demand meets fluctuating supply, resulting in price surge
The tantalum concentrate price has been moving higher since the beginning of February, following a slow start to the year. The surge in price has been fuelled by renewed end-user demand from the electronics and capacitors industry and supply worries due to lockdowns in Rwanda, one of the largest suppliers of the metal.
In fact, the recovery in the end-user demand from the capacitors and electronics segments, along with the supply disruptions have triggered a major rally in the tantalum concentrate prices. The relentless supply worries in countries like Rwanda and DRC have been weighing heavily on the downstream electronics, automotive, aerospace and other industries.
The metal has been short in supply since early 2020, due to temporary suspension of mining operations in Rwanda and Brazil and a restricted supply from the Australian mines that produced tantalum as a by-product.
While the demand for the metal is on the rise, the supply needs to be strengthened. Currently, the supply disruption at one region seems to have a major impact on the global tantalum supply chain.
The current supply chain is less reliable due to issues related to artisanal mining, which results in rapid fluctuations in output. Artisanal mining is usually more economical but less stable. The additional supply of tantalum, as a by-product of lithium, reinforces the potential for industrial scale operations and further balances the global supply.
Arcadia Minerals: An aspiring Tantalum producer with a premium asset
Guernsey-based diversified minerals explorer, Arcadia Minerals Limited (ASX:AM7) envisions to explore, develop and unlock the true potential of the Swanson tantalum-Lithium project. On 22 June 2021, the explorer is set to list on the ASX following the completion of its initial public offering.
Arcadia minerals is among the few minerals and exploration companies that hold significant opportunities across the portfolio. Arcadia plans to fast-track the exploration activity upon successful listing on the ASX.
The company’s portfolio includes:
- Swanson Project – Advanced stage tantalum and lithium project with early development potential
- Kum-Kum Project – prospective for nickel, copper, and platinum group elements.
- Karibib Project – prospective for copper and gold
- Bitterwasser Project – prospective for lithium-in-brines and lithium-in-clays.
Swanson tantalum-lithium project in a premium mining destination
Arcadia proposes to acquire an 80% stake in the premium Swanson Project as part of the acquisition of Orange River Pegmatite (Pty) Ltd (ORP). The tantalum-lithium project includes an exclusive prospecting licence (EPL 5047) in the Karas region of Southern Namibia.
The Swanson project includes numerous well-mineralised pegmatites. The renowned Tantalite Valley Shear belt in the region is home to pegmatites with intruded granitic gneisses, metasediments and gabbroic-troctolitic rocks. The region holds over six pegmatite swarms with more than 80 pegmatites.
The Swanson project includes a mining lease, owned by Kazera Global PLC, which hosts an active tantalite mining operation. The mining operation holds a JORC compliant mineral resource of 594,000 tons with 247ppm Ta2O5 grades.
Source: Company’s presentation
The region is a mature mining friendly neighborhood with existing infrastructure. At present, Arcadia is focused on the historical “Swanson's Claim” block and the Tantalite Valley Complex around ML77.
Previously, ORP had conducted an extensive mapping and sampling programme to identify over fifteen well-mineralised pegmatites. The exploration campaign resulted in extremely promising results outlining the potential for a significant tantalum resource with minor lithium occurrences. The preliminary sample was followed by a limited drilling program.
Overall, the Swanson project presents a strong case as a possible tantalum producer. The management at Arcadia remains committed to unlock the true value of the Swanson tantalum-lithium project.