Resilience in the tantalum supply chain

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

92 Scopus Citations
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  • Nabeel A. Mancheri
  • Benjamin Sprecher
  • Sebastiaan Deetman
  • Steven B. Young
  • Raimund Bleischwitz
  • René Kleijn
  • Arnold Tukker


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-69
Journal / PublicationResources, Conservation and Recycling
Online published18 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


Tantalum, considered one of the critical elements by many countries, is a widely used metal in industries such as electronics, aerospace and automotive. The tantalum market has experienced several disruptions and subsequent price swings in the past, implying problems with its supply chain resilience and stability. In this study, we trace the entire value chain of the tantalum industry from mining to the intermediate and the downstream industries. Our interest is to see how dependent the tantalum supply chain is on specific countries and regions, how exposed primary production is to disruptions, and what mechanism counteracts disruption. This study assesses the tantalum supply chain from a resilience perspective rather than an investigation of any specific disruption in the system. We analyze several resilience-promoting mechanisms such as: (a) diversity of supply, (b) material substitution, (c) recycling and (d) stockpiling. We evaluate each of these mechanisms, and find that even though diversity of supply and stockpiling mechanisms have been decreasing for years, the tantalum supply chain has been flexible in its response to disruption. We find a much larger supply from unaccounted artisanal and small mining sources than expected based on official statistics, and estimate the unaccounted production in Africa, which shows an almost 250 percent increase from around 600 tons in 2004 to more than 2000 tons in 2014. Besides flexible primary production from small-scale mining, we identify rapid material substitution and increasing availability of waste and scrap as the main reasons behind the observed supply chain resilience.

Research Area(s)

  • Material flow, Resilience framework, Sustainable supply chain, Tantalum

Citation Format(s)

Resilience in the tantalum supply chain. / Mancheri, Nabeel A.; Sprecher, Benjamin; Deetman, Sebastiaan et al.
In: Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Vol. 129, 02.2018, p. 56-69.

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review