Globe Fine-Tunes Extraction Of Africa Niobium, Tantalum

In addition to producing niobium and tantalum oxides, the company is investigating a second processing technology, looking to open up the lucrative ferro-niobium market.

Curiously, the steel industry accounts for almost 90 per cent of all niobium produced, in the form of ferro-niobium, for use in high-strength alloy steels for the construction, automation, pipeline aerospace and defence sectors.

Preliminary test work so far has indicated Globe’s ore concentrates are “highly suitable feedstock” for the process.

Management says the new technology does not use carbon, instead turning to renewable energy to manufacture steel and other metals — giving it a big green tick of approval.

In parallel with the cloak and dagger test work, Globe has also partnered up with TCM Research Limited which has developed advanced technology around the production of niobium, tantalum and other metals.

Interestingly, researchers are discovering niobium oxide can also be used in electric vehicle batteries for stability, increased capacity, coatings and faster charging. With the electric battery market surging, Globe says industry forecasts expect the value of the niobium oxide market to rival that of the ferro-niobium market by the end of the decade.

“Similarly, the TCM technology offers the ability to use the KNP concentrates and waste from the ferro-niobium process to produce high-quality niobium and tantalum oxides and to separately recover other valuable contained metals.”

The proposed mining and processing operation at Kanyika is expected to churn out about 11,300 tonnes of niobium and tantalum concentrate per annum on the back of newly unveiled proved and probable ore reserves of 33.8 million tonnes grading an average 3048 parts per million niobium pentoxide and 141ppm tantalum pentoxide.

With more than one string in its processing bow, Globe looks set to have all corners of the niobium market covered. Whilst the company awaits the expected tick of approval from the Malawi Government, it is tidying up the processing costs to feed back into its feasibility study. As the company enters a trading halt, market pundits will be curiously awaiting further news flow.