Tantalum is a chemical element, having the chemical symbol Ta. Its atomic number (the number of protons) is 73. It has a standard atomic weight of 180.9479 g•mol −1 and is a solid in its elemental form.
Tantalum was discovered in 1802 and is used in manufacturing electrolytic capacitors for the electronics industry. The tantalum capacitors are a common choice for use in cellular phones and other mobile electronics, because of the fact that they have the highest capacitance-to-volume ratio, and are therefore the smallest in size, relative to any other capacitor technology.
Tantalum is mined in the form known as coltan, an ore of columbite and tantalite. It has been estimated that a high percentage of the world's coltan reserves are located in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). There has been continued strife in the DRC for many years related to coltan mining and corruption.
- Congo's coltan rush Helen Vesperini, August 1, 2001, BBC News website
- Coltan Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo University of Michigan website
- The Business of War in the Democratic Republic of Congo Dena Montague and Frida Berrigan, Dollars and Sense magazine, July/ August 2001