Tantalum, niobium and lithium
Tantalum and niobium
Recent strong growth in demand for tantalum has been driven by rapid growth in the electronics industry, particularly the increasing need for tantalum capacitors.
Tantalum and niobium are always found together, usually in minerals of the tantalite–columbite series in pegmatites, granites, carbonatites and alkaline igneous rocks.
Tantalum and niobium are associated with tin-bearing aplite–pegmatite–greisen dykes in northeastern Victoria. The Walwa tinfield, including the Mount Alwa and Bounce mines, has been the largest primary tin producer in Victoria.
In these deposits, leucogranites, pegmatite bodies and quartz veins containing cassiterite (SnO2) have been emplaced into metasedimentary rocks.
Interest in exploration for lithium has grown in response to demand for its use in batteries for electric cars and for several other key automotive components. Aluminium–lithium alloys also have important uses in aerospace technology.
Two types of lithium deposit are known:
- Deposits associated with granites and pegmatites. These deposits contain spodumene (LiAl(SiO3)2), which is a silicate of lithium and aluminium (e.g. Greenbushes mine in Western Australia) and are the most common lithium deposits.
- Lithium deposits in arid environments where there are acid volcanic rocks. These deposits are found in brine lakes and salt pans and contain soluble carbonate and chloride salts of lithium (e.g. deposits in Chile).
The spodumene-type deposits may be present in Victoria, but the arid environments that produce soluble lithium salts are not. The Lake Boga granite may be prospective for lithium-bearing minerals.
There are no records of the presence of lithium-bearing minerals in Victoria. However, there has been no exploration specifically targeting lithium in the state.
Minerals of Victoria – Geological Survey of Victoria Report 92
Bogong dyke chemistry – Geological Survey of Victoria Unpublished Report 2003/10
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Page last updated: 12 Jan 2023