Geologic Distribution: Tantalum is associated with minerals in coal, possibly with titanium, zirconium or phosphates 1,2. Tantalum in West Virginia coals averaged 0.19 ppm and correlated very slightly with ash yield and moderately with the ash related elements hafnium (Hf), thorium (Th), chromium (Cr), scandium (Sc), zirconium (Zr), lithium (Li) and lead (Pb) and rare earth element components of the mineral monazite such as cerium (Ce), lanthanum (La), niobium (Nb), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu) and lutetium (Lu). Tantalum shows a slight increase in abundance upward in the stratigraphic column of West Virginia with most coals averaging less than 0.4 ppm whole coal Ta with no discernible areal trends in abundance.
Economic Impact: Tantalum in coal has no economic value or adverse economic impact. Tantalum is used to make a variety of alloys, electrolytic capacitors and vacuum furnace parts, camera lenses and surgical appliances 3.
Environmental Impact: Tantalum has no detrimental environmental effects during mining and use 4.
1. Finkelman, R.B., (1981)
2. Palmer, C.A. and Filby, R.H., (1984)
3. CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics
4. Swaine, D.J., (1990)
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