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Niobium (Columbium) and Tantalum
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Niobium and columbium are synonymous names for the chemical element with atomic number 41; columbium was the name given in 1801, and niobium (Nb) was the name officially designated by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry in 1950.   Niobium in the form of ferroniobium is used worldwide, mostly as an alloying element in steels and in superalloys.   Appreciable amounts of niobium in the form of high-purity ferroniobium and nickel niobium are used in nickel-, cobalt-, and iron-base superalloys for such applications as jet engine components, rocket subassemblies, and heat-resisting and combustion equipment.

Tantalum (Ta) is ductile, easily fabricated, highly resistant to corrosion by acids, and a good conductor of heat and electricity and has a high melting point.   The major use for tantalum, as tantalum metal powder, is in the production of electronic components, mainly tantalum capacitors.   Major end uses for tantalum capacitors include portable telephones, pagers, personal computers, and automotive electronics.  Alloyed with other metals, tantalum is also used in making carbide tools for metalworking equipment and in the production of superalloys for jet engine components.

The United States does not have a niobium or tantalum mining industry because resources are of low grade, and the United States must import all of its niobium and tantalum source materials for processing.  Brazil and Canada are the major producers of niobium mineral concentrates, and Australia, Brazil, and Canada are the major producers of tantalum mineral concentrates.

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