Tantalum is used in the high-efficiency capacitors found in a wide range of electronics including mobile phones as well as in many extremely durable alloys.
The Swedish chemist Anders Gustaf Ekeberg discovered a strange mineral among others from the Ytterby pegmatite mine near Waxholm, north of Stockholm, in the late 1790s. This mineral, later called yttrotantalite, contained a supposedly new metal and Ekeberg published his discovery of the new metal, named tantal (tantalum) in 1802.
Ytterby was already by that time famous for the discovery of what was to become yttrium and the first of the rare earth elements (REE), after the 1794 publication on the new metal “yttria”. Later, the name of Ytterby would be immortalised by no less than four rare earth metals named after this little village with its pegmatite mine; yttrium (Y), ytterbium (Yb), terbium (Tb) and erbium (Er). Despite the local abundance of rare metal minerals in the Ytterby granitic pegmatite, it was only mined for the industrial minerals quartz and feldspar.
The FRAME project is, among other things, doing a survey of the pan-European distribution of the this critical metal.