Abstract for: (Un)desired Tantalum?
In 2010, the Ad Hoc Working Group, a sub group of the Raw Materials Supply Group, chaired by the European commission, wrote the ‘Critical raw materials for the EU’ report EU (European Commission 2010). Tantalum, a transition material used in electrolytic capacitors, and as such a principal component for many electronic devices, is mentioned in this report as one of the most critical materials for European industry and consumers, in terms of supply disruptions for modern or emerging technologies. The report gives three reasons for the criticality of tantalum. First, a large share of tantalum production comes from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Rwanda. This region, the African Great Lakes region, is a well-known conflict region. Therefore, tantalum mined in the DRC, or more in general, Central Africa, is known as a conflict material (Bannister 2008). Second, tantalum has presently low recycling rates, as well as low substitutability (European Commission 2010, Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center 2010).