Vanadium

Symbol: V
Category: Transition metal
Atomic number:  23
Atomic weight: 50.9415

Physical Properties:

State:  solid at 298 K
Melting Point: 2193 K (1920˚C)
Boiling Point: 3673 K (3400˚C)

Energy Properties:

Specific heat capacity: 0.49 J g-1K-1 Heat of fusion: 20.90 kJ mol-1
Heat of atomization:  514 kJ mol-1 Heat of vaporization: 0.452 kJ mol-1
1st Ionization energy: 650.3 kJ mol-1 2nd ionization energy: 1413.5 kJ mol-1
3rd ionization energy: 2828 kJ mol-1 Electron affinity: 50.7 kJ mol-1

Atomic properties:

Oxidation states: 5,4,3,2,1,-1 (amphoteric oxide) Electronegativity: 1.63 Pauling Scale
Polarizability volume: 12.4 A3 Atomic radius: 134 pm
Covalent radius: 153±8 pm

What is vanadium?

Vanadium was discovered in 1801 by Andrés Manuel del Rio, and then it was rediscovered 30 years later by Nils Gabriel Sefström who named it vanadium after the Scandanvian goddess, Vanadis. Vanadium is a silvery gray, soft and ductile metal with good corrosion resistance to alkalis, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid and salt water. However, vanadium oxidizes in air at temperatures exceeding 660˚C to pentoxide (V2O5).

What is vanadium used for?

Roughly 80% of vanadium that is produced is used as ferrovanadium as an additive to strengthen steels. In small amounts, vanadium can significantly increase the strength of steel. As such, it is used in the production of rust-resistant high-speed springs for use in nuclear applications, as well as in steel tools and surgical instruments. Vanadium also acts as a stabilizer for titanium, providing an increase in strength and temperature stability. When combined with titanium and aluminum, the resulting titanium-aluminum-vanadium alloy is used for jet engines and high-speed aircraft.

Vanadium pentoxide, the most popular oxide of vanadium, is used as a catalyst in the manufacture of sulfuric acid. It is also used to make ceramics. Vanadium is also emerging with significant importance in the manufacture of vanadium redox batteries, which employs vanadium ions in difference states to store chemical potential energy. The technology is geared at creating unlimited power storage tanks to meet increased energy demands.

Where is vanadium found?

Vanadium is never found unbound in nature. However, it is found in approximately 65 different minerals including, patronite, carnotite and vanadinite and in fossil fuel deposits. Vanadium is also found as a byproduct of uranium mining and in steel slag and fly ash. Any vanadium obtained through slag and fly ash forms ferrovanadium, a mixture of iron and vanadium that can be used in place of pure vanadium.

Most of the world’s vanadium is comes from vanadium-bearing magnetite found in ultramafic gabbro bodies. Vanadium occurs in deposits of titaniferous magnetite, phosphate rock and uraniferous sandstone and siltstone. Typically, vanadium constitutes less than 2 percent of the host rock.

Mining for vanadium occurs primarily in South Africa, China and Russia. However, Australia, Peru, southwestern United States and Madagascar all have the potential to become large future producers of the metal.

Where are the world class vanadium deposits?

Vanadium is the 13th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. However, commercially viable deposits are rare and world class deposits even more so.

Producing companies with world class vanadium deposits are Mineral Resources Ltd (ASX:MIN) and Atlantic Ltd’s (ASX:ATI) Windimurra Vanadium Project in Western Australia; Evraz Group’s (LON:EVR) Kachkanar GOK operating in the Ural Mountains in Russia; and Highveld Steel and Vanadium’s (PINK:HGVLY) Vantra Vanadium mine in South Africa. Also of note is the Panzhihua mining area in China which hosts an average grade of roughly 0.3% vanadium with 3.65 million tons of reserves and resources.

Future producers of vanadium

Several companies with vanadium properties are aiming enter the production stage within the coming years.

Apella Resource Inc. (CVE:APA) is a Canadian exploration company with a portfolio focused on vanadium-titanium-iron projects. Their two keystone properties are the Iron-T Vanadium Project and the Lac Dore Vanadium Project, both located in a mining-friendly region of the province of Quebec. An initial NI 43-101 Resource Calculation for the 100% owned Iron-T Vanadium Project includes 11.63 million tonnes of 0.73 vanadium equivalent far exceeded Apella’s own in-house expectations of 5-6 million tonnes.

American Vanadium Corp. (CVE:AVC), is developing the Gibellini Project, 25 miles south of Eureka, Nevada. The Vanadium Hill Deposit on the Gibellini Project has a defined resource of 122 million pounds of V2O5 and an inferred resource of 16 million pounds. A scoping study by AMEC suggests a 40% IRR after tax, is possible.

Energizer Resources Inc. (CVE:EGZ), is an exploration company focused on the exploration and development of its primary project, the Green Giant Vanadium Property in Madagascar. The Company’s NI 43-101 compliant resource places this project as one of the world’s largest 100% owned vanadium properties. Energizer is the only company actively targeting vanadium pentoxide suitable for emerging battery technologies.

Gossan Resources Limited (CVE:GSS)  is engaged in the exploration and development of a broadly diversified portfolio. Their Pipestone Lake Project is host to vanadium, titanium and iron.