Selling used (scrap) Tantalum sputter targets into the scrap metal market for recycling creates an important source of Tantalum metal for the needs of industry. If this supply were not available, industry would have to purchase only virgin Tantalum from the Tantalum metal producers, thus eliminating competition from an alternate supply. Primary Tantalum metal producers supply the ingots and blanks to sputter target manufacturers.
The use of Tantalum for medical implants, electronic alloys, turbine alloys, cutting tool industries, and others depend on using recycled scrap Tantalum. If that supply were no longer available, those industries would have to compete for the supply of the virgin Tantalum that normally goes into sputter targets. The result would be a reduction of the overall Tantalum available to industry and allow the Tantalum metal producers to have total control of price. The Tantalum Price could and has skyrocketed in times of short supply.
Some of the more interesting uses of Tantalum are explained at: http://www.globaladvancedmetals.com/tantalum/applications.aspx.
In many cases, used and scrap Tantalum targets are not directly used by the Tantalum metal producers to make new ingot and blanks for the sputter target manufacturers. The scrap is not pure enough for the demanding needs of the sputter target industry, but is pure enough for the other industries. The Tantalum producers have to go through a purification process similar to the process used when making Tantalum metal from Tantalum ore mined from the ground. Since the additional purification steps are not needed for other industries, properly recycled and processed scrap Tantalum, by companies like Exotech, can be used directly and at a substantial discount from virgin metal. Therefore, Tantalum scrap buyers, like Exotech, pay a higher Tantalum price for used Tantalum sputter targets than the Tantalum producers, where the targets are used as an ore substitute. Tantalum consumers can realize savings over the cost of virgin metal when buying properly processed Tantalum scrap. Exotech is certified to sell recycled Tantalum to most of the major alloy manufacturers. See: https://exotech.com/buy-and-sell-tantalum/
The Tantalum metal producers have the ability to use ore and revert (internal scrap) to produce the virgin ingot needed to make sputter target blanks. The value of used Tantalum target scrap is about the same as the value of Tantalum ore to the Tantalum metal producers. This is substantially below the value, and thus the price of Tantalum scrap to other industries. That is why the price paid for used Tantalum targets by the scrap trade, and in particular by Exotech, is much higher than the Tantalum scrap price paid from the sputter target manufacturers.