China was the top vanadium producer in 2016 by a long shot, followed by Russia, South Africa and Brazil.
Vanadium prices were up in 2017, reaching a four year high in May of that year. Vanadium mining has also been receiving a bit of a buzz in the last year, due to hopes surrounding the vanadium redox flow battery.
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, which has been in high demand in China. While China continues to be the leading producer, Chinese environmental inspections having increased, many Chinese producers were shut down, thus decreasing supply.
Vanadium prices have begun increasing as a result. In September of 2017, vanadium pentoxide prices were sitting at $5.05 per pound, significantly higher than the same period in 2016.
Last year, world vanadium mining production totaled 80,000 MT, up slightly from 79,000 MT in 2016, 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.
Mine production: 43,000 MT
China was the world’s top vanadium producer in 2017 with output of 43,000 MT. That is the down from 45,000 MT 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.
Mine production: 16,000 MT
Second on the list is Russia, whose vanadium mining production totaled 16,000 MT in 2017, the same as its 2016 output. Russia’s vanadium reserves are the second largest in the world, at 5,000 MT. Little other information is available about vanadium mining in Russia.
3. South Africa
Mine production: 13,000 MT
Vanadium mining output in South Africa has been on a upward trend in recent years. In 2017, the country put out 13,000 MT of the metal, up from 10,000 MT in 2016. The country’s Evraz Highveld vanadium and iron mine shut down in 2015, but vanadium mining production has since recovered.
The Bushveld vanadium project in South Africa is responsible for roughly 26 percent of the world’s vanadium supply alone. Bushveld has three main assets which “constitute a total of 439.6 Mt JORC resource base.”
Mine production: 8,400 MT
Last is Brazil, whose vanadium mining production ramped up to 8,400 MT in 2017 from 8,000 MT in 2016.
Brazil’s production increase is largely thanks to Largo Resources (TSX:LGO), which describes itself as the only pure-play vanadium producer. The vanadium mining company’s Maracas mine is the highest-grade vanadium mine in the world, and achieved record quarterly production in Q4 of 2017, reaching 2,539 tonnes of vanadium. Largo’s total production guidance for 2018 is 8,950 to 9,950 tonnes of vanadium oxide.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Amanda Kay, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.