China was the top vanadium producer in 2019 by a long shot, but what are the other top vanadium-producing countries?
Global vanadium-producing countries have benefited from infrastructure spending in China in recent years, and that continued in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
The silvery-gray metal is essential in various metal alloys, but is mainly used to make ferrovanadium, an alloy of iron and vanadium metal that is used in steel production. China is the leader of a small number of vanadium-producing countries.
Heading into 2021, the potential global economic recovery to follow on the heels of COVID-19 vaccination programs may provide further support to vanadium demand and the vanadium price.
Interest in vanadium redox batteries for large-scale stationary energy storage also contributes to a positive outlook for vanadium as the metal is a good conductor of electricity.
On the supply side, world vanadium production has fallen in recent years. Totalling 80,000 MT in 2017, mined production of the metal dropped to 71,200 MT in 2018 with a slight uptick to 73,000 MT in 2019, as per the most recent data from the US Geological Survey. Four countries contributed to the vast majority of that output, and below is a brief overview of all the world’s vanadium-producing countries.
Mine production: 40,000 MT
China was the world’s top vanadium-producing country in 2019 with output of 40,000 MT. That’s on par with the previous year’s vanadium production level.
The Asian nation far outpaces all other countries in terms of vanadium mining output. As mentioned, vanadium is mainly used in the production of steel. Although Chinese steel output has declined in recent years, the country still leads the world in vanadium consumption.
Mine production: 18,000 MT
Second on the list is Russia, whose vanadium ore output totalled 18,000 MT in 2019, the same as its 2018 output. Russia’s vanadium reserves are the second largest in the world at 5,000 MT. EVRAZ KGOK (LSE:EVRAZ) is a major mining company in Russia that produces vanadium.
Little other information is available about vanadium mining in Russia.
3. South Africa
Mine production: 8,000 MT
Vanadium mining output in South Africa had been on an upward trend in recent years, with output reaching 13,000 MT of the metal in 2017. In 2018, the vanadium-producing country’s output dropped to 7,700 MT with a slight uptick to 8,000 MT in 2019.
Most of South Africa’s contributions to the vanadium market originates in primary production from Bushveld Minerals (LSE:BMN) and Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF). Bushveld Minerals’ vanadium-mining division is comprised of three assets in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.
Mine production: 7,000 MT
Last is Brazil, a vanadium-producing country whose ouput ramped up to 8,400 MT in 2017 only to fall steeply to 5,500 MT in the next year. In 2019, Brazil’s vanadium ore output rose slightly to 7,000 MT.
Brazil’s production increase is largely thanks to Largo Resources (TSX:LGO), which describes itself as the only pure-play vanadium producer. The company’s Maracas Menchen vanadium project is the highest-grade vanadium mine in the world.
Want to find out more about vanadium and the metal’s outlook for 2021? Click here for our overview.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.