The Course of Coltan

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Columbite–tantalite or coltan is a mineral which has become of great importance to the world because of its properties have been used in our mobile phones, computers, blades in aircraft engines, land-based gas turbines and mill products. This has raised the prize of the black mineral and has created a profitable business in the countries where tantalite is found; in countries such as The Democratic Republic of Congo, where the precious rock is found at a surface level and where its extraction is an easier task. As every product or material that can be sold there is a supply chain to fulfil the demand and with the Columbite–tantalite the process begins with its extraction which is often done by artisanal miners who live in poverty. Coltan is mined through a fairly primitive process. Miners work together digging large craters in streambeds, scraping away dirt from the surface in order to get to the coltan underground. The workers then slosh water and mud around in large washtubs, allowing the coltan to settle to the bottom due to its heavy weight.Then the next step in the supply chain after its extraction is the trading and processing of Coltan. Coltan is usually traded in three forms: as ore concentrates, as tantalum oxides and salt, or as capacitor-grade tantalum. Columbite–tantalite is not traded on an open exchange, but in negotiations taking place on a bilateral basis between buyers and sellers around the world. Prices are privately discussed and purchase contracts
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