Dynamics of global production and commodity flows of niobium raw materials

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The relevance of the work is caused by the need to study the problems of the monopoly in the niobium world market. The aim of this research is to study the dynamics of world commodity flows (production, import, export, consumption) of niobium products (niobium concentrates and ferroniobium); to develop proposals to reduce the level of monopolization of the supply of niobium raw materials. Methods: statistical, graphic, logical. Results. The world market of niobium products is exclusively monopolized with absolute domination of the Brazilian company Companhia Brazileira de Metalurgia e Mineraçã (CBMM). Development of the world's largest niobium Arash Deposit with high-quality and technological pyrochlore ores and well-established production allows CBMM to hold a monopoly position. The world's recorded niobium resources (44,7 million tonnes Nb2O5) are sufficient for more than 50 years of growing consumption of niobium products. Brazil accounts for 63 % of the world's niobium resources. World sales of ferroniobium increased from 25 thousand tons in 1996 to 105 thousand tons in 2014, growth rate +8,7 %/year. More than 95 % of the world's ferroniobium is traded internationally. Brazil exports 69,5-86,6 thousand tons/year, Canada - 6,1 to 10,7 thousand tons/year. The main importers of ferroniobium are the USA, Japan, Germany, China, South Korea, Italy, Belgium, France and Russia. Imports of ferroniobium increased in China (up to 16,8 thousand tons in 2017, an increase of +20,0 % / year), in the United States, Russia and South Korea, decreased - in Spain. Average price of ferroniobium in time grew from 8,6 US $/kg in 2004 to 26,3 US $/kg in 2012, and then started to decline up to 19,6 US $/kg in 2017. Average import prices below the world average are observed for China (-1,5 % rel.) and Russia (-19,5 % rel.). Average import prices of ferroniobium (+0,6...6,2 % rel.) to Japan, France, Italy, Belgium, USA, Germany, Britain are above the world one. Average import prices of ferroniobium to India are significantly higher than the world one. In 2006-2017 they were +39...65 % rel. Ferroniobium world consumption grows over time. Its increase is of +9,1 %/year, that exceeds significantly the increase of production of steel (+4,3 %/year) and other ferroalloys (+3...6 %/year). Global specific consumption of ferroniobium per 1 ton of steel products is growing - from 28 g/t in 1996 to 63 g/t in 2017. In terms of absolute volumes of ferroniobium consumption, the highest growth rates are in China - from 0,9 thousand tons in 1999 to 16,8 thousand tons in 2017 (growth rate +25,2 %/year). South Korea, Russia, India and Belgium have high absolute consumption growth rates as well. Ferroniobium consumption (2017) in Belgium (250 g/t), Germany (155 g/t), USA (111 g/t), South Korea (106 g/t), France (97 g/t), Japan (85 g/t), Italy (84 g/t), Britain (84 g/t) and Russia (73 g/t) exceeds the world average level of specific consumption of ferroniobium. CBMM has the active pricing policy that prevents the emergence of new niobium mining projects in other countries. The second problem of development of the most part of niobium deposits is the complexity of their composition, which bears the risk of imbalance in implementation of the resulting commercial products. The most interesting project of the development of Tomtor niobium-rare-earth deposits in Russia, under certain conditions it is possible to implement projects elk Creek in United States, Ghurabah in Saudi Arabia, Bonga in Namibia, Sukulu in Uganda, Motzfeldt in Greenland, Bolshezemelskoe in Russia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-229
Number of pages14
JournalBulletin of the Tomsk Polytechnic University, Geo Assets Engineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Brazil
  • Consumption
  • Export
  • Ferroniobium
  • Import
  • Monopoly
  • Niobium raw materials
  • Pricing
  • Production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Fuel Technology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economic Geology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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