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- CRB Fundamentals - 2008 Commodity Articles


Vanadium (symbol V) is a silvery-white, soft, ductile, metallic element. Discovered in 1801, but mistaken for chromium, vanadium was rediscovered in 1830 by Swedish chemist Nils Sefstrom, who named the element in honor of the Scandinavian goddess Vanadis.

Never found in the pure state, vanadium is found in about 65 different minerals such as carnotite, roscoelite, vanadinite, and patronite, as well as in phosphate rock, certain iron ores, some crude oils, and meteorites. Vanadium is one of the hardest of all metals. It melts at about 1890 degrees Celsius and boils at about 3380 degrees Celsius.

Vanadium has good structural strength and is used as an alloying agent with iron, steel, and titanium. It is used in aerospace applications, transmission gears, photography, as a reducing agent, and as a drying agent in various paints.

Prices - The price of vanadium in 2005 (latest data available) rose very sharply by +231% to a record high of $17.50 per pound.

Supply - Virtually all (99%) of vanadium is produced from ores, concentrates, and slag, with the remainder coming from petroleum residues, ash, and spent catalysts. World production in 2005 from ore, concentrates and slag rose +13.2% to 58,200 metric tons. World production of all vanadium in 2005 rose +13.3% yr/yr to a record high of 58,800 metric tons.

The world's largest producer of vanadium from ores, concentrates and slag is South Africa with 25,000 metric tons of production in 2005, and that was 43% of world production. The two other major producers are China with 29% of world production and Russia with 26% of world production. Production in Russia and South Africa has been relatively stable in recent years, while China's production grew sharply in the late 1990s. China's production level of 17,000 metric tons in 2005 is a new record high and is more than triple the levels seen in the early 1990s. Japan is the only significant producer of vanadium from petroleum residues, ash, and spent catalysts with 560 metric tons of production in 2005.

Trade - The U.S. exports very little vanadium.

U.S. imports of vanadium were mainly in the form of ore, slag and residues with 3,370 metric tons of imports in 2005, down sharply by 63.4% yr/yr. Other key import categories of vanadium were ferro-vanadium (11,900 metric tons, +294% yr/yr), vanadium pent-oxide, anhydride (1,370 metric tons, +32 yr/yr), and oxides & hydroxides (186 metric tons, +55% yr/yr).

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