Last week, MetalMiner ran a story examining the import and export trends for tantalum. The author discussed the skyrocketing number of tantalum imports compared to falling US exports.
As a follow-up commentary to that guest post from our friends at Zepol, we’d argue the bigger story involves the month-to-month trends of imports (and not so much of exports) – and specifically the time period before and after the August 22, 2012, SEC conflict minerals rule promulgation.
According to Chris Grove, director of communications at Commerce Resources, a junior tantalum mining firm: “In Q1 2013, we became aware of a company in China that stopped selling material to the US…we understood that their feedstock did not comply with the conflict minerals rules.” In terms of the yearly import trends reported on MetalMiner, Grove said, “to be honest, the story’s trends make sense through the eighth month of 2012 (Ed. note: that Chinese imports increased), but this can’t be the story post-Aug. 22,” given the new rules.
“I would expect to see that pie graph shift quite significantly with China looking a lot different,” Grove suggested, “but the real question we have to ask is, has the country of origin changed along with the quantities?” Grove expects a significant drop in 2013 imports from China. If no data supports that then, “the tantalum industry has found a way around the ruling.”
And therein lies the rub.