Inspenet, October 16, 2023.
Chinese scientists made a highly innovative discovery in the largest deposit of rare earths in the world, located in China, identifying a previously unknown mineral called “niobobaotite”, which is exceptionally rich in niobium, a metal highly valued for its superconducting qualities. .
Why is this mineral so valuable?
The discovery of niobium, a fundamental element in a wide variety of applications, from steel manufacturing to the production of jet engines and particle accelerators, has the potential to revolutionize the battery technology industry in the Asian country .
Niobobaotite is characterized as a mineral combination composed of niobium, barium, titanium, iron and chloride and has been officially recognized by the classification committee of the International Mineralogical Association, in addition to being confirmed by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).
Niobium plays an essential role in steel manufacturing, helping to strengthen the material without adding significantly additional weight. Furthermore, due to its resistance to corrosion and heat, it is used in the creation of various metal alloys.
Likewise, the metals that incorporate it are essential in the construction of rockets, building structures, oil extraction platforms, gas pipelines, oil pipelines and jet engines.
It also plays a crucial role in the manufacture of cutting-edge scientific equipment such as particle accelerators, MRI and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) devices, thanks to its ability to act as a superconductor at low temperatures, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry. Society of Chemistry).
As for the future, niobium could see an increase in demand as researchers work to develop batteries using niobium-lithium and niobium-graphene.
This discovery is of particular importance to the country as it currently imports approximately 95% of its niobium supply. Until now, the main source of niobium has been the mineral known as columbite, the mining of which largely takes place in nations such as Canada, Brazil, Australia and Nigeria.