Coltan – an exotic commodity

Coltan is an exotic and extremely valuable commodity that few investors are interested in. Since direct investment in the metal is not possible, investment opportunities are mainly focused on companies that mine and produce the rare metal.

However, anyone interested in this valuable metal should also be aware of the problems involved in mining and trading, because an investment in an exotic raw material is always associated with high risks and problems, for which careful consideration is advisable.

What is coltan?

Coltan is a very valuable metal for industry due to its special properties. On the one hand, coltan has an extremely high melting point of around 3000 degrees Celsius, and on the other hand it is absolutely insensitive to alkalis and acids.

The ore consists of different minerals. The most important of these are the metals tantalum and niobium. Tantalum in particular is of great importance to the electrical industry because it stores electrical voltage particularly quickly and effectively and is therefore indispensable for almost all electrical appliances. As a component of coltan, it is separated from the other metals it contains using a chemical process.

Easy extraction, but problematic mining conditions

The extraction of coltan is quite uncomplicated compared to many other raw materials. It can be washed out of the rock with water and identified by its weight and then separated from the rest of the material. However, the conditions under which coltan is mined are problematic.

The world’s largest coltan deposits are found in Australia, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since both Australia and Brazil have almost exhausted their coltan reserves, the main coltan mining is currently taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The actual extraction of the valuable raw material is not even very complicated, because the coltan material can be washed out of the earth relatively easily.

However, the mining conditions of the raw material are problematic. The mining of coltan takes place predominantly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There, coltan is mined in numerous small and also large mines under largely inhumane conditions. Child labor is the order of the day and people work as day laborers in the mines for wages on which they can barely survive.

In addition, Congo has been suffering from political unrest for many years. Many of the coltan mines are controlled by armed rebels, so the people working there are exposed to rebel violence on any given day and have no security.

Investing in coltan – following your conscience

Those who wish to invest in the valuable commodity coltan cannot do so directly in the physical commodity  and will instead make an investment in mining shares.

Investors should follow their conscience and obtain accurate information about producers and the mines they manage before investing.




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