Manitoba
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Manitoba's Mineral Resources

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Industrial Minerals

Commodity Summaries

Cesium, Tantalum & Spodumene

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Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Limited is part of the Cabot Corporation - a global specialty chemicals company. Bernic Lake, 60 km east of Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba, is home to the Tanco Mine. The Tanco mine is the a producer of Cesium, Tantalum & Spodumene.

Location

The Tanco mine is located at Bernic Lake, 60 km east of Lac du Bonnet, in southeastern Manitoba. The Bernic Lake deposit is one of the largest rare element bearing deposits in the world.

Contact

Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada Ltd.
A Cabot Corporation Company
P.O. Box 2000,
Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba
R0E 1A0
Phone: (204) 884-2400
Fax: (204) 884-2211
Web site: www.cabot-corp.com/cws/corporate.nsf/

Cesium

Overview

The Mineral deposit at Bernic Lake, contains two thirds of the worlds known reserves of pollucite, which contains cesium. Cesium is used to produce a dense biodegradable drilling fluid – cesium formate - which is used as a lubricating agent for large scale drilling projects.

Mineralogy

Cesium is contained in a pollucite ore (Cs, Na)2Al2Si4O12.H2O). The pollucite is one of numerous pegmatite minerals found within the Precambrian Tanco Pegmatite, which intruded into the Bird River Greenstone Belt.

Mining

Cesium is mined as pollucite ore in a shallow underground mine from a zoned pegmatite. The pegmatite is accessed by a 20° decline and uses a room and pillar method to achieve a 95% extraction rate. The polluctie occurs with spondumene, lepidolite and feldspars.

Markets

Cesium is used to produce a dense biodegradable drilling fluid, which is used as a lubricating agent for large scale drilling projects. Cesium formate fluid possesses a number of attributes that make it an ideal product for deep drilling operations for the oil and natural gas industry. Cesium formate does not contain any solid additives and is able to withstand extreme temperatures. In addition, cesium formate is biodegradable and therefore appeals to operators working in environmentally sensitive conditions such as offshore oil and gas drilling.

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Tantalum

Overview

Cabot is a world leader in the production of tantalum and niobium for the electronics, medical, aerospace, defense and chemical processing industries. The Tanco Mine at Bernic Lake, 60 km east of lac du Bonnet, Manitoba produces tantalum. Tantalum is a greyish silver heavy and very hard metal. The Bernic Lake deposit is one of the largest rare element bearing deposits in the world.

Markets

Over the past few decades tantalum has been transformed from a minor by-product of tin mining to a valuable resource.

The largest market and a growth market for Tanco is the capacitor industry, which uses tantalum powder and wire to make high-reliability capacitors for many of today's critical electronics, including cell phones, laptop computers, personal digital assistants, as well as automotive and consumer electronics.

Mining

Tantalum is mined as tantalite ore in a shallow underground mine from a zoned pegmatite. The pegmatite is accessed by a 20° decline and uses a room and pillar method to achieve a 95% extraction rate. The tantalite occurs in a variety of mineralized zones.

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Spodumene

Overview

The Tanco Mine at Bernic Lake produces spodumene, a brittle crystalline mineral of the pyroxene group that varies in color from transparent white to yellow, gray, green and purple. Demand for Spodumene increased in the early to mid 1980’s when Corning Incorporated developed and marketed a new line of corning ware products. Tanco produces high-grade spodumene for the ceramic and specialty glass industries.

Mineralogy

Spodumene is a lithium aluminum silicate of formula LiAlSi2O6, with a hardness of 6.5 to 7 and a specific gravity of 3.13 to 3.20. It occurs in massive form in large crystals, usually as a constituent in granitic pegmatites.

Markets

Spodumene is an important lithium ore and is used in the production of ceramics, enamel, and glass. Lithium is an essential component in nuclear weapons and nuclear-energy fuels and it is commonly used in air conditioners and lubricants. Two transparent and highly colored varieties of spodumene are used as gemstones: hiddenite, a yellow to emerald-green stone, and kunzite, which occurs as a pinkish-lilac crystal. Tanco produces high-grade spodumene primarily for the ceramic and specialty glass industries.

View spodumene deposits and occurrences for more information.

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