Vatic Ventures Corp. (OTC: VTTCF) (TSX-V: VCV) has entered into negotiations with a private Sierra Leone company to earn a majority interest in a columbite-tantalite (coltan) property in the Kono district in eastern Sierra Leone, Africa. The licence area totals 169.73 square kilometres. The Kono district is a well-known mineral-producing region for gold, diamonds and coltan. According to documents from the licence holder that were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources, columbite-tantalite is a non-conflict mineral and the licence area is a non-conflict region in Sierra Leone.
Coltan in Sierra Leone is a fairly recent discovery. The Director-General of the Mines Department of the country recently described coltan as the new kid on the block on the Sierra Leone mineral landscape. The U.S. Geological Survey recently reported that several companies in Sierra Leone are exploring for this material and that there was small-scale production and exports in 2013/2014.
Coltan is a dull-black metallic ore from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. Niobium and tantalum have a wide range of uses, including refractive lenses for glasses, cameras, phones and printers. They are also used in semiconductor circuits and capacitors for small electronic devices such as hearing aids, pacemakers, computer hard drives, automobile electronics and mobile phones. The European Commission has placed both niobium and tantalum on its 2017 list of critical raw materials for the European Union.
The tantalite market has experienced significant price rises in the last two years, from just over $120 (U.S.) per kilogram to over $186 (U.S.) per kilogram. The market for niobium has remained relatively stable the past two years at over $42,000 (U.S.) per metric tonne. Vatic sees this as a strategic opportunity to diversify its project portfolio.
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