4 Top Vanadium-producing Countries

China was the top vanadium producer in 2016 by a long shot, followed by Russia, South Africa and Brazil.

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The last few years have been tough for vanadium, and 2016 was no different. 

The silvery-grey metal is mainly used to make ferrovanadium, an alloy of iron and vanadium that is used in the production of steel and other alloys, but with the Chinese economy not growing as much as anticipated, demand for steel (and the components that make it) is down.

Vanadium prices have suffered as a result. In August 2016, vanadium pentoxide prices were sitting at $3.26 per pound, significantly lower than August 2008 when prices were at $15.40. And while a slow price recovery is expected in the coming years, for now vanadium output is low and few projects have come online in recent years.

Last year, world vanadium mine production totaled 76,000 MT, down from 77,800 MT in 2015, as per the most recent data from the US Geological Survey. Only four countries contributed to that output, and below we’ve provided a brief overview of all of them.

1. China

Mine production: 42,000 MT

China was the world’s top vanadium producer in 2016 with output of 42,000 MT. That is the same amount it put out the previous year.

The Asian nation far outpaces all other countries in terms of vanadium production, and is also a large consumer of the metal. As mentioned above, the metal is largely used in the production of steel, although Chinese steel output has declined in recent years. That said, interest surrounding vanadium redox batteries is picking up, and that could signal a major shift in the market.

2. Russia

Mine production: 16,000 MT

Second on the list is Russia, whose vanadium production totaled 16,000 MT in 2016, on par with 2015 output. EVRAZ (LSE:EVR) is key to vanadium production in Russia, as well as worldwide. Little other information is available about vanadium production in Russia.

3. South Africa

Mine production: 12,000 MT

Vanadium production in South Africa has been on a downward trend in recent years. In 2016, the country put out 12,000 MT of the metal, down from 14,000 MT in 2015. The country’s Evraz Highveld vanadium and iron mine shut down in 2015, and that has significantly impacted its level of production.

The Bushveld vanadium project in South Africa is responsible for roughly 26 percent of the world’s vanadium supply alone.

4. Brazil

Mine production: 6,000 MT

Last is Brazil, whose vanadium production ramped up to 6,000 MT in 2016 from 5,800 MT in 2015.

Brazil’s production increase is largely thanks to Largo Resources (TSX:LGO), which describes itself as the only pure-play vanadium producer. The company’s Maracas mine is the highest-grade vanadium mine in the world, and achieved record production twice in 2016: first in June, at 801 tonnes produced, and then in December, with 823 tonnes.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates.

Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

This article is updated each year. Please scroll to the top for the most recent information.

Vanadium, a silvery-grey transition metal, had a tough time in 2015, largely due to China’s less-than-stellar economic performance. 

The metal is mainly used to make ferrovanadium, an alloy of iron and vanadium that is used in the production of steel and other alloys, but with the Chinese economy not growing as much as anticipated, demand for steel (and the components that make it) is down.

At the moment, it’s uncertain when vanadium’s prospects will improve. While some steelmaking metals have other key applications, vanadium is tied more closely to steel than most. And though some market watchers believe vanadium demand from the battery sector will eventually increase, that hasn’t happened yet.

In fact, the Merchant Research & Consulting says the market is on the rise. The report predicts the global demand for vanadium to more than double by 2025.

With all of that in mind, it’s perhaps unsurprising that world vanadium output fell in 2015. According to the US Geological Survey’s report on the metal, production clocked in at 79,400 MT, down from 82,700 MT in 2014. Interestingly, only four countries were responsible for that output: China, South Africa, Russia and Brazil. Here’s a brief overview of those vanadium producers.

1. China

Mine production: 42,000 MT

China was the world’s top producer of vanadium in 2015, putting out 42,000 MT of the metal. That’s slightly off from the 45,000 MT it produced in 2014, but still ahead of the rest of the world by a large margin.

While Chinese demand for steel isn’t as high as many would like it to be, the country still uses a lot of the material, and thus also consumes a lot of vanadium. Indeed, much of the vanadium that China produces is used within the country. As mentioned, it’s uncertain when Chinese demand for steel (and thus for vanadium) will pick up — expert opinions vary widely.

2. South Africa

Mine production: 19,000 MT

South Africa produced 19,000 MT of vanadium in 2015, down 2,000 MT from the amount it put out the previous year. Because China retains much of the vanadium it produces, many countries that need vanadium import it from South Africa. In fact, South Africa’s Bushveld Complex is responsible for more than 20 percent of global vanadium supply.

3. Russia

Mine production: 15,000 MT

Slightly behind South Africa, Russia produced 15,000 MT of vanadium in 2015, just off from the 15,100 MT it put out in 2014. There’s often little information available on Russian metals production, and for vanadium it’s no different; however, it’s worth noting that EVRAZ (LSE:EVR), a vertically integrated steel, mining and vanadium business, is a key vanadium producer in Russia, as well as worldwide.

4. Brazil

Mine production: 2,800 MT

Finally, Brazil produced 2,800 MT of vanadium in 2015, up from 1,030 MT in 2014. While that’s far below the output from China, South Africa and Russia, Brazil’s lower output is understandable — that’s because its main vanadium producer only just got up and running.

That company is Largo Resources (TSXV:LGO), which bills itself as the only pure-play vanadium producer in the world (other companies produce vanadium as a by-product of other metals, meaning that they produce it as a secondary product when they mine other metals). It achieved first production at its Maracas Menchen mine in Brazil midway through 2014.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates.

This is an updated version of an article first published on the Investing News Network on June 10, 2015.

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

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