Ceramic Industry

H.C. Starck Pledges to Continue to Meet Tantalum Demand (posted 12/3/08)

December 3, 2008

The H.C. Starck Group recently announced that it regrets the decision of Talison Minerals Pty. Ltd. to suspend mining at the world’s largest tantalum operation in Wodgina, Australia, in early December 2008. “We have known Talison as a reliable supplier for many years, always selling its tantalum in compliance with recognized social, legal, ethical, safety and environmental standards,” said John van Put, Ph.D., general manager of H.C. Starck’s Electronics and Optics Business Group. “As Wodgina has supplied more than 30% of the world’s tantalum so far in 2008, the repercussions on tantalum prices are predictable.”

Talison’s decision is driven by the downturn in worldwide demand for consumer electronics, a major user of tantalum products. Besides the present crisis, the strong trend to reduce costs in the electronics supply chain impacted the tantalum market, leading to increasing tantalum supplies from the crisis area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It is clear that at the current spot prices, reputable companies like Talison cannot compete with unscrupulous traders offering little economic benefit to small miners or the local population,” said Heinz Heumüller, Ph.D., chief executive officer of H.C. Starck.

According to H.C. Starck, it has sufficient stocks and supply channels to meet the foreseeable needs of its customers, especially because of its backward integration process that relies on scrap recycling. In spite of Talisons’s production termination, H.C. Starck will continue to offer materials of high quality exclusively based on tantalum obtained from reputable sources. “Clearly, the industry will see price increases, as the significant effects cannot be absorbed by the supply base alone,” said van Put.

The company’s website is located at www.hcstarck.com.