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Roy Chacón
LLB, Chief Operations Officer

Coltan (short for columbite–tantalites and known industrially as tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. The niobium-dominant mineral in coltan is columbite (after niobium’s original American name columbium), and the tantalum-dominant mineral is tantalite.Tantalum from coltan is used to manufacture tantalum capacitors which are used for mobile phones, personal computers, automotive electronics, and cameras. Coltan mining is widespread in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Coltan from central Africa is only one of many sources of tantalum. There are other sources of tantalum coming from more industrialized countries such as Australia and Brazil. Places in industrial process China, Russia or without industrial planning such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda. Although it may not seem like it, this material is used for the manufacture of a large number of electronic devices and other applications that we can find on a daily basis.

Withstands high temperatures. Its heat resistance is twice that of iron.

It has a high capacity for storing electric charges.

It is very resistant to corrosion.

High resistance to wear and tear.

It is a better conductor than copper.

Coltan Applications

Thanks to the properties of coltan, we can find this material in more common applications than you might think.

Coltan can be found in cell phones, smartphones and other electronic systems. It is mainly used to create capacitors in this type of electronic equipment. But we can also find applications of this type of material in the manufacture of high power resistors.
In batteries. In fact, thanks to coltan, the size of batteries has been decreasing. It is also used in the manufacture of camera lenses, which are getting thinner and smaller. In addition, it helps to maintain high conductivity materials to maintain the integrity within the chip itself.
Coltan is also used to make high-temperature alloys for jet engines, air-based turbines, and land-based turbines.
More recently, in the late 2000s, the nickel-tantalum super-alloys used in jet engines account for 15% of tantalum consumption, but pending orders for the Airbus and the 787 Dreamliner may increase this proportion, as well as China’s pending order for 62 787-8 airplanes.
Some corporations using Coltan to sell electronic products in the United States and worldwide. These corporations have taken proactive steps to trace and audit their supply chains. They have also pushed for legislation and exercised leadership in an industry-wide effort to help the Congo to develop clean trade practices.
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