Theft Targeting Government Stores Of Tantalum: Sign of The Times?

The Malaysia Star reported February 27th, 2011 that a break-in targeting the rare metal tantalum had occurred at two warehouses owned by the Penang Municipal Council in Georgetown Malayisa sometime in early January 2011.  According to the story- thieves gained access to the warehouses by digging several holes at night up to half a metre deep and about 2m wide under the concrete flooring and broke through to the storage area.

The story quotes Datuk Keramat assemblyman Jagdeep Singh Deo as saying  “he was told of the matter by the Kampung Makam Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) last month (In January 2011).”  It was unclear how much tantalum was stolen. The story goes on to say that in 2006 that some 100,000 tonnes of tantalum-filled slag was unearthed in Penang.  Malaysians call tantalum- kim (Hokkien for black gold),

The price of tantalum has risen from $35 USD per pound in January 2009 to $122.00 per pound in February 2011, making the metal extremely valuable.  Tantalum is used in anodes for tantalum capacitors, as an additive for superalloys, in semiconductor targets; in wear parts and as an additive for cutting tools.

Additional Resources:

TANTALUM: Global Market Outlook: 2008-2013 ISBN # 0-929717-81-3 (2012)

Tantalum Capacitors: World Markets, Technologies & Opportunities: 2010-2015 ISBN # 1-893211-11-8 (© April 2010)