Columbium—an outlook

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 832, 1981

EDGAR A. MANKER, Vice-President, Niobec Inc., Montreal, Quebec

Today's market for columbium has only developed in the last two decades, and in this sense it is "newer" than molybdenum, vanadium and most other steel alloying elements. In this short period, it has assumed a very important role in steel alloying and in superalloys. From a few hundred thousand pounds of columbium in 1960, consumption has grown to nearly 30 million pounds per year, with a market value approaching two hundred million dollars.To assess the outlook for columbium, we will first consider the historical development of consumption and supply, particularly noting that all of today's major mines were developed during the last two decades. From current production, we will attempt to reasonably project the future. This future may well include new producers, particularly some producing columbium as a co-product with tantalum.The growth of current applications, and emerging new applications, will be considered with regard to future consumption and in relation to future trends in pricing.
Keywords: Columbium, Mineral economics, Alloys, Ferroalloys, Markets, Pipeline steels, Automobiles, Construction.