Niobium Price

Niobium (symbol: Nb; atomic number: 41) is a metallic element with soft, gray and ductile properties. In nature, it is often found along with pyrochlore mineral while its processed form is used in the manufacture of high-grade structural steel and super-alloys.

The name comes from Niobe, a figure in Greek mythology, who was Tantalus’ daughter. Tantalus, in turn, is the origin of the name for tantalum, a metal with similar physical and chemical properties as niobium, thus, adding to the difficulty of distinguishing between the two elements.

Below is the historical Niobium price per metric ton.

YearPricePrice (Inflation Adjusted)Change
1940$771.62$13,663.170%
1941$771.62$13,012.540%
1942$1,168.45$17,767.9534%
1943$551.16$7,899.32-112%
1944$551.16$7,767.270%
1945$1,322.77$18,222.1558%
1946$1,190.49$15,143.02-11%
1947$1,433.00$15,933.3417%
1948$1,609.37$16,553.5411%
1949$2,491.22$25,935.2335%
1950$5,621.78$57,775.3356%
1951$5,643.83$53,755.280%
1952$7,495.71$70,062.5225%
1953$7,495.71$69,506.470%
1954$7,495.71$69,023.310%
1955$7,495.71$69,300.510%
1956$7,495.71$68,276.360%
1957$7,495.71$66,095.220%
1958$7,495.71$64,294.960%
1959$2,380.99$20,281.14-215%
1960$2,689.64$22,527.2411%
1961$2,204.62$18,282.10-22%
1962$2,094.39$17,196.04-5%
1963$2,094.39$16,975.360%
1964$1,873.93$14,993.58-12%
1965$1,873.93$14,757.470%
1966$2,447.13$18,728.3723%
1967$2,138.48$15,874.12-14%
1968$2,028.25$14,449.01-5%
1969$2,314.85$15,631.0112%
1970$2,469.17$15,773.946%
1971$2,292.80$14,029.91-8%
1972$2,843.96$16,862.9119%
1973$3,130.56$17,478.599%
1974$3,615.58$18,186.1013%
1975$3,769.90$17,380.674%
1976$5,930.42$25,842.6236%
1977$6,084.75$24,896.843%
1978$6,680.00$25,401.879%
1979$14,947.32$51,069.0055%
1980$14,330.03$43,136.54-4%
1981$13,514.32$36,882.20-6%
1982$10,207.39$26,230.88-32%
1983$10,207.39$25,417.520%
1984$8,267.33$19,737.83-23%
1985$8,267.33$19,051.960%
1986$6,062.71$13,710.93-36%
1987$5,357.23$11,694.48-13%
1988$5,357.23$11,233.890%
1989$7,165.02$14,336.5925%
1990$7,165.02$13,602.080%
1991$6,239.07$11,366.85-15%
1992$6,239.07$11,035.770%
1993$5,732.01$9,843.57-9%
1994$5,732.01$9,594.120%
1995$6,613.86$10,768.6213%
1996$6,613.86$10,454.970%
1997$6,613.86$10,219.920%
1998$6,613.86$10,058.970%
1999$6,613.86$9,842.440%
2000$13,778.88$19,830.8452%
2001$18,500.00$25,900.3626%
2002$22,500.00$31,004.3718%
2003$25,500.00$34,348.2712%
2004$28,500.00$37,379.9911%
2005$30,500.00$38,687.767%
2006$31,500.00$38,717.263%
2007$33,500.00$40,053.996%
2008$37,500.00$43,195.1411%
2009$38,500.00$44,525.113%
2010$41,500.00$47,238.787%
2011$41,500.00$45,774.010%
2012$41,500.00$44,832.520%
2013$41,500.00$44,169.970%
2014$41,500.00$43,474.380%
2015$40,000.00$41,861.16-4%
2016$41,700.00$42,659.104%
2017$41,700.00$41,700.000%

Brief History

In 1801, Charles Hatchett, an English chemist, announced his discovery of a new element with similar properties as tantalum and dubbed it columbium. In 1809, William Hyde Wollaston made the wrong conclusion that columbium and tantalum were identical. In 1846, Heinrich Rose, a German chemist, discovered that ores of tantalum contained another element, niobium.

By 1865, scientists discovered that columbium and niobium were one and the same, as well as distinct from tantalum. For the next century, columbium and niobium were interchangeably used. But to avoid confusion, niobium became its official name in 1949 although columbium is still in use today in the United States, mainly in metallurgy.

Niobium wasn’t used in commercial applications until the early 20th century. Today, Brazil is the leader in the production of both ferroniobium, which contains 60 to 70 percent niobium with the rest being iron, and niobium.

Price History

According to estimates, the worldwide production of niobium will be more than adequate in meeting the projected needs. Most of the identified niobium resources are outside of the United States, notably in Brazil, Mozambique and Canada.  Most of these resources also feature niobium found as pyrochlore in carbonatite.

For this reason, the niobium prices in the coming years will likely remain relatively stable. Even with the reduced niobium consumption as a result of the 2008 worldwide financial market problems, the prices have been generally favorable for investors.

While the United States has an estimated 150,000 tons of niobium deposits in its identified areas, all of these were considered less than viable in financial terms – uneconomic, as they say – in relation to the niobium prices in 2010. But the fact that these deposits exist is good news for the country considering that its companies produced niobium-based alloys from imported niobium minerals, ferroniobium, and oxides. For now, nonetheless, the United States experiences import dependence particularly on Brazil, which supplied majority of its imports in niobium (75%), niobium oxide (86%), and niobium metal (91%).

Since niobium’s principal use is in steelmaking, particularly in the production of high-grade structural steel and super-alloys, the trend for its consumption including its price will likely follow the trend in steel production. This is because the steel industry accounts for an estimated 90% of niobium use worldwide. But it must be emphasized that since only a small percentage – about 10% – of steel products have niobium, the consumption trend for niobium doesn’t always follow the trends for steel manufacture.

Use as an Investment

Niobium may be used in steel production but it isn’t a widely heard metal.  Nonetheless, the investment potentials for niobium cannot be undermined considering its good returns on investments, especially after the consumption of niobium increased after the 2008 economic downturn. The niobium market has also remained relatively stable even with the ups and downs suffered by other metals, thanks partly to the fact that the supply will likely always be higher than the demand for it.

But caution is still a must when investing in niobium. The worldwide niobium industry has undergone substantial changes in its corporate composition in the past few years. For example, the major niobium producers have changed ownership, such as when CBMM sold 30% of its ownership stake to Asian consortiums (2011) while IAMGOLD sold Niobec to Magris Resources (2015). Being aware of these changes in ownership is a must for investors so that the appropriate actions on their investments can be made, if necessary.

What It’s Used For

Niobium is used for the following purposes:

  • In the production of steel since the addition of niobium increases the strength, toughness, and formability as well as the ease of welding the steel alloy. When used as a micro-alloying element, the metal becomes niobium nitride and niobium carbide. The resulting niobium alloys are used in various applications from automobiles to pipelines.
  • In the manufacture of super-alloys wherein niobium is mixed with cobalt, nickel, and iron that, in turn, are used in high-tech applications. These include gas turbines, turbo charger systems, jet engine parts, combustion equipment, and rocket sub-assemblies, among others. Notable examples of use include the air frame systems and nozzle for NASA’s spacecraft, such as Gemini and Apollo programs.

Indeed, niobium is a good metal investment because of its relatively stable prices as well as supply and demand, and its widespread use in industries.

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The displayed metal prices are estimates only. They are aggregated using multiple sources. Actual prices may vary based on region, supplier, or various other factors.