Conflict-free tantalum transported to a port in Tanzania is reportedly being stolen by what is believed to be an organized criminal gang. Some traders said that after their containers are robbed of tantalite, they are then filled with cement, according to Metal-Pages. The thefts reported thus far are estimated to exceed over $10 million and the stolen material is believed to be destined for China.
The impact of these thefts is starting to weigh on the larger industry. Market participants reported that concentrate was generally selling for about $122 to $127, but now lower offers are popping up, as per information from Metal-Pages.
Over the past few weeks, the price range for tantalite basis 30-percent Ta2O5 in Europe has dropped from $127 to $132 to $120 to $130. Throughout January and into the start of this month, tantalum ore prices in Europe have been mostly steady, in the $530 to $550 range.