Hafnium is a transition metal that is similar to zirconium but twice as dense. The principal uses of hafnium were in high-temperature ceramics, nickel-base superalloys, nozzles for plasma arc metal cutting, and nuclear control rods.Alloys of hafnium with tungsten are used in filaments and electrodes. Hafnium is also used as neutron absorber in nuclear power plant control rods. Hafnium is used in nuclear control rods because of its high thermal neutron absorption cross section. Hafnium carbide is the most refractory binary compound, with a melting point of 3890 C. Hafnium has a reasonably stable nuclear isomer, hafnium-178m2, one gram of which contains as much energy as 700 pounds of TNT. Zircon is the primary source of hafnium; zirconium and hafnium are contained in zircon at a ratio of about 50 to 1. Zircon is a coproduct of the mining and processing of heavy-mineral sands for the titanium minerals ilmenite and rutile. The leading producers of zirconium and hafnium metal were France, Russia, and the United States.
Import Sources: Hafnium, unwrought: France, 60%; Germany, 20%; Canada, 7%; United Kingdom, 6%; and other, 7%.
Price: In 2009, The average unit value of imported unwrought hafnium including sponge and powder from France was $472 per kilogram, a 110% increase from that in 2008.
World Resources: Resources of hafnium in the United States are estimated to be about 130,000 tons, available in the 14-million-ton domestic resources of zircon. World resources of hafnium are associated with those of zircon and baddeleyite and exceed 1 million tons.
Substitutes: Silver-cadmium-indium control rods are used in lieu of hafnium at numerous nuclear powerplants. Zirconium can be used interchangeably with hafnium in certain superalloys; in others, only hafnium produces the desired or required grain boundary refinement.
Hafnium Producers Alkane Resources (ASX: ALK) - zircon-rich mineral deposit near Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia
Allegheny Technologies (NYSE: ATI) - Their ATI Wah Chang unit is a diversified specialty metals company produces hafnium, as well as zirconium, niobium, nickel and cobalt alloys, and titanium.
Anglo American (LON: AAL) - Their Namakwa Sands mine in South Africa is a major producer of zircon, which contains zirconium and hafnium.
DuPont Titanium Technologies (NYSE: DD) - produces zircon from its heavy-mineral sands operation near Starke, Florida
Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU) - produces zircon from its heavy-minearl sands operations at Stony Creek, Virginia. Also produces zircon at its Jacinth-Ambrosia mine in the Eucla Basin, South Australia.
Western Zirconim - the Westinghouse Electric subsidiary produced hafnium and zirconium metal in Ogden, Utah
Matilda Zircon - zircon-rich heavy-minerals deposits in the Tiwi Islands, Northern Territory, Australia
Titanium Corp. - recovering bitumen and heavy minerals including zircon from oil sands tailings.
Hainan Taixin Minerals - mining rights to a heavy-mineral deposity near Wanning City, Hainan Province, China
ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. - Lukoyanovskoye heavy-minerals sands deposit near Nizhny Novogorod, Russia
Mineral Deposits Ltd. - Grande Cote deposit in Senegal
Carborundum Universal - acquired Foskor Zirconia in 2008
Hafnium News 2011-03-01 - (isa) - Hafnium: small supply, big applications
2010-10-22 - (acs) - Direct writing of sub-5 nm hafnium diboride metallic nanostructures
2010-10-18 - (aps) - Discovery of highly excited long-lived isomers in neutron-rich hafnium and tantalum isotopes through direct mass measurements