Global vanadium-producing countries have benefited from infrastructure spending in China in recent years. However, in 2023 and beyond, the market is likely to be driven by demand related to energy storage as well.
While demand for vanadium from China and globally has softened heading into the second half of the year, there is still plenty of optimism that the market’s medium- to long-term outlook remains strong.
On the supply side, world vanadium production has fallen in recent years. Totaling 105,000 metric tons (MT) in 2021, mined production of the metal dropped to 100,00 MT in 2022, as per the most recent data from the US Geological Survey.
Four countries contribute to the vast majority of that output. Below is a brief overview of these top vanadium producers.
Mine production: 70,000 MT
China was the world’s top vanadium-producing country in 2022 with output of 70,000 MT. That’s nearly on par with levels the previous year. The Asian nation far outpaces all other countries in terms of vanadium-mining output, and leads the world in vanadium consumption as well due to its high steel production.
Mine production: 17,000 MT
Second on the list is Russia, whose vanadium ore output totaled 17,000 MT in 2022, down 3,100 MT from 2021. Russia’s vanadium reserves are the second largest in the world at 5,000 MT.
EVRAZ KGOK, part of EVRAZ (LSE:EVR), is a major mining company in Russia that produces vanadium. Little other information is available about vanadium mining in Russia.
3. South Africa
Mine production: 9,100 MT
South Africa’s vanadium output was on an uptrend, reaching 13,000 MT in 2017. But in 2018, the vanadium-producing country’s output dropped to 7,700 MT, and has been slowly recovering since. In 2022, production grew by 300 MT over the previous year.
Most of South Africa’s contributions to the vanadium market consist of primary production from Bushveld Minerals (LSE:BMN) and Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF). Bushveld Minerals’ vanadium division is comprised of three assets in the Bushveld Complex.
Mine production: 6,200 MT
Brazil’s vanadium output ramped up slightly to 6,200 MT in 2022, up from 5,780 MT in the previous year. Brazil’s production is largely thanks to Largo Resources (TSX:LGO,NASDAQ:LGO), which describes itself as the only pure-play vanadium producer. The company’s Maracas Menchen vanadium project is the highest-grade vanadium mine in the world.
FAQs for vanadium
Who is the largest exporter of vanadium?
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of vanadium, with Russia and South Africa rounding out the top three. Brazil alone is responsible for nearly one-quarter of the metal’s global export market, and the trio combined represents nearly 60 percent of the market.
Which country has the most vanadium reserves?
China has the highest vanadium reserves in the world, coming in at 9.5 million MT as of 2022. Australia comes in second with 7.4 million MT of vanadium reserves, although it should be noted only 1.7 million MT are JORC-compliant. Russia and South Africa are next in line with vanadium reserves of 5 million and 3.5 million, respectively.
What is vanadium used for?
Vanadium is essential in various alloys, with the most common being ferrovanadium, an alloy of iron and vanadium metal that is used in steel production. Beyond these traditional applications, the silvery-gray metal’s uses in the battery industry are growing — it’s increasingly being used in vanadium redox batteries for large-scale stationary energy storage.
Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.