3 Top Vanadium-producing Countries

3 Top Vanadium-producing Countries

Vanadium is a soft metal that does not naturally occur in isolation. According to WebElements, it must be separated from other substances, such as carnotite, roscoelite, vanadinite, mottramite and patronite, as well as some crude oils.

The metal has a variety of industrial applications, and is an important part of everyday life. It's most commonly used as an additive to strengthen steel alloys, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS). That said, the BBC reported last year that demand for vanadium from the energy sector may increase in the coming years as the world shifts to more sustainable power generation.

With that in mind, it's interesting to look at the top vanadium-producing countries. Here's a look at the ones that made the list in 2014, as per statistics from the USGS.

1. China

Mine production: 41,000 tonnes

China produces the most vanadium in the world by a large margin. Currently, its massive amount of output fuels its manufacturing sector's appetite for steel, though the Asian nation is also interested in the metal's potential in alternative energy applications.

In 2013, Chinese regulators mandated the use of high-strength steel in more building applications, according to Steel Times International. That move increased China's need for vanadium and raised expectations that the country will maintain its level of production moving forward.

2. South Africa

Mine production: 21,000 tonnes

South Africa's vanadium production trails China's significantly, but the country remains the second-largest producer of the metal. Because China retains much of the vanadium it produces, South Africa is responsible for much of the world's supply. In fact, The Street states that the Bushveld Complex is responsible for more than 20 percent of global vanadium supply.

3. Russia

Mine production: 15,000 tonnes

Russian produces about 10 percent of the world's vanadium, according to The Street, and it rounds out the list of top producers for 2014. Because the number of vanadium producers is so limited, Russia, along with China and South Africa, has a relatively high degree of control over global supply for the metal.

Other producers

For 2014, the USGS identifies only China, South Africa and Russia as vanadium producers, though it notes that 600 tonnes of the metal came from various "other countries."

Interestingly, in previous years the list of vanadium-producing countries was a little longer. For instance, in 2013, the US produced 591 tonnes of the metal. The USGS notes that the country is home to seven companies that produce vanadium as a co-product of other mining operations; however, no co-product vanadium production took place there in 2014.

Meanwhile, Australia put out 400 tonnes of vanadium in 2013, but like the US recorded no output in 2014. In the future, the country could become a major vanadium producer, but at the moment efforts to extract the country's known reserves have hit roadblocks. Case in point: the Windimurra mine is located in Western Australia, and could become the world's largest vanadium mine, as per MBendi. Unfortunately, operations there were suspended indefinitely in February 2015; Atlantic (ASX:ATI), the mine's owner, is currently trying to restructure its ownership, according to The West Australian.

It will be interesting to see if the US and Australia become producers once again moving forward. Investors focused on the vanadium space will no doubt be watching to see what happens.

3 Top Vanadium-producing Countries from Vanadium Investing News