T.I.C.’s 60th General Assembly (conference and AGM) on tantalum and niobium

On October 14th to 16th the T.I.C. held its 60th General Assembly (conference and AGM) in Hong Kong SAR, China. This event is the world’s leading international tantalum-niobium conference, and this year, despite the negative journalism about Hong Kong in recent months, over 185 delegates attended from over 100 companies and almost 50 countries.  The T.I.C. (Tantalum-Niobium International Study Center) is the international trade body representing the tantalum and niobium industries and is a member of the Tarantula project.

The conference has been held annually for over 40 years in order to exchange the information on tantalum and niobium, especially in the field of market developments and technical uses of the two elements. The 2019 event was attended by leading tantalum and niobium participants from around the world and was generously sponsored by Guangdong Zhiyuan New Material Co. Ltd (Platinum) and A&R Merchants Inc. (Silver), RC Inspection Group (Silver) and Yanling Jincheng Tantalum & Niobium Co. Ltd (Silver).

Plenary sessions included lively question and answer sessions after each presentation. Since 2017, the General Assembly has featured English-Chinese simultaneous translation for the benefit of delegates. The main topics that were addressed include supply chain due diligence, criticality, materials flows and transport issues. In addition, specialists gave relevant and informative presentations about explosive welding of tantalum, additive manufacturing in medical applications, and minimising environmental side effects from chemical processing.

© T.I.C. 2020

During the gala dinner the incoming President Dr Daniel Persico presented the winner of the Anders Gustaf Ekeberg Tantalum Prize 2019, Mr Nicolas Soro, with a medallion made form pure tantalum metal in recognition of his great achievement. The Ekeberg Prize is awarded annually for excellence in tantalum research and innovation, recognising outstanding contributions to the advancement of the knowledge and understanding of tantalum.

Nicolas Soro and his co-authors won the prize for their paper ‘Evaluation of the mechanical compatibility of additively manufactured porous Ti–25Ta alloy for load-bearing implant applications’. Nicolas Soro is studying for his PhD in ‘Additive Manufacturing of Porous Metals for Biomedical Applications’ within the group of Professor Matthew Dargusch at the Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing of The University of Queensland, Australia.

Following the plenary sessions of the General Assembly many delegates joined a field trip to visit Hong Kong’s container port, one of the busiest in the world. Our boats were dwarfed by the OOCL Hong Kong (below), the largest container ship ever built at the time she was delivered in 2017. She is 400m long and can hold the equivalent of over 21,400 twenty-foot shipping containers (TEU).

© T.I.C. 2020

At the 2020 T.I.C. General Assembly, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, in October 11th to 14th, it is expected that the Tarantula project will be presented to the global tantalum-niobium community. Tarantula is focused on the recovery of tungsten, niobium and tantalum occurring as by-products in mining and processing waste streams. To stimulate the recovery of those refractory metals from such complex, low-grade resources, Tarantula will develop a suite of cost-effective, scalable and eco-friendly – bio-, hydro-, iono-, solvo-, pyro- and electro-metallurgical – processes with high selectivity and recovery rates. These novel technologies, each representing an alternative for one or more process steps of state-of-the-art (SoA) processing lines, will form new routes towards market-ready metals, metal oxides and metal carbides.

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