Rare Strategic Metals Products
Until recently, these metals were only purchasable in bulk by metal traders and manufacturers. We can now make Rare Strategic, Base, and Precious Metals available to individuals and institutions in smaller quantities. We provide exposure across different metal groups and offer a safe, conservative holding, with more potential upside and liquidity than just one metal group may offer. To add Rare Strategic Metals to your portfolio, please call 800-831-0007 to speak with a Preferred Client Relations Representative.
Current and future applications for Bismuth are clear. It is used predominantly for alloys in metallurgy and in the pharmaceutical industry, including the popular gastrointestinal medicine 'Pepto-Bismol.' Sustainability of Bismuth supply is now heavily dependent on recycling.
Bismuth production depends on Lead or Tungsten, from whose ores it is predominantly extracted. Approximately 7,500 tons of Bismuth was produced in 2009; with more than 60% coming from China, the country with the largest reserves estimated at 240,000 tons. It’s important to note that the U.S. halted production of refined Bismuth, and is therefore totally dependent on imports.
Bismuth prices increased approximately 30% between 2013-2014 and through 2014, prices remained strong as fundamental demand, along with listing of Bismuth on China’s Fanya exchange, continue to support the market.
Dysprosium is vital in a wide range of applications and industries ranging from nuclear, refrigeration, laser materials, commercial lighting, and automotive. One of its more exciting applications is in electric and hybrid electric vehicles, which are being strongly promoted in both China and the EU.
The electric and hybrid vehicle industry alone requires over 100 grams of Dysprosium in the drive motors for every car produced. Toyota’s projected 2 million cars per year output alone will require more dysprosium than is currently available.
The large number of growing applications almost ensures supply shortages are right around the corner. Therefore, values of this versatile metal are almost certain to increase.
Gallium uses are primarily architectural, commercial, consumer portable (for example, torches), industrial, in outdoor and residential lighting, signals (for example, traffic lights) and motor vehicles. Architectural lighting has been the largest market, but may be overtaken by outdoor and residential illumination needs in the coming years.
Between 2009 and 2013, Chinese Gallium production rose from one third to nearly 80% of the global total. Japan is the largest market by far, but global market consumption fell from an estimated high of 80% in the mid-2000's to about 50% in 2013 as China consumes more.
Demand expectations will rise rapidly between 2014 and 2020 as general lighting moves away from incandescent and fluorescent lamps to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Prices will likely benefit as these products become popular.
Germanium finds use in fiber optics, infrared optics, solar cells, experimental pharmaceuticals and various other applications. Germanium’s properties are advantageous in making specialized glass for militaries, satellites, and fire alarm systems. The infrared optics field remains the primary growth point of future demand for Germanium.
A large percentage of Germanium comes from China (71%), Russia (4%), and less than 3% from the U.S. Thus, while western supply is not ensured, demand will endure regardless. China has greater say in Germanium prices, partly to growing industrial chain integration in 2014. The price is stable at high level, but there are concerns, particularly among leading industrialized nations, that the supply of significant industrial resources like Germanium could become more precarious in coming decades.
Hafnium is used in nuclear control rods, super alloys used by aerospace industry, and in industrial gas turbines. It is an electrical insulator in microchips, semiconductors and integrated circuits. Hafnium is irreplaceable in many of these functions.
Its use in super alloys for gas turbines will drive the market in the foreseeable future. Predictions in industry demand could double within the next two decades, and will certainly put additional pressure on existing producers. Some sources predict the world may deplete Hafnium stockpiles in a decade if supplies are not replenished soon. Already, above-ground stockpiles are critically low, and with increasing nuclear industry use, shortages are on the horizon.
Hafnium, an unknown-to-mainstream metal, has seen sharp price increases, doubling in price from 2014-2015 as supplies continue to dwindle. As such, prices are set to soar in the next 2-3 years.
Indium’s commercial use as a bearing coating in aircraft engines began during the Second World War. Today, Indium is found in all Liquid Crystal Displays, touch screens, iPhones, flat screens, mobile phones, and computers.
As early as 2006, 230 of the 600 tons produced annually were needed for display production alone; by 2030, the predicted annual demand is 1,580 tons. More than 50% of production comes from China, the biggest supplier. The largest Indium deposits are also found there, with an estimated 8,000 of 11,000 tons total.
Indium’s versatility makes it invaluable to many industries. Supply concerns are on the horizon, as stocks of Indium are running low, and will likely be exhausted by 2020.
Rhenium is used in combustion chambers, turbine blades, exhaust nozzles of commercial and military jet engines, and liver cancer treatments.
China is currently building the biggest air fleet in the world, and Russia is updating and expanding its old military and commercial fleet (600 new planes and 1,000 new helicopters). Such developments discount demand from current users, which, at the moment, consumes more than yearly global production.
Rhenium is one of the rarest elements found in the planet’s crust. The last demand spike was from 2006-2008, when Rhenium went from $3,000 to $12,000. Because of the low availability of this metal relative to demand, Rhenium is among the most expensive of the Rare Strategic Metals.
Today, Tantalum is used in many products including mobile phones, computer and videogame consoles, medical equipment, and radios. In addition, Tantalum is used as an alloy in aircraft turbines, nuclear reactors, and missile parts because of its high melting point. Being non-toxic and non-reactive to body fluids, it is also used in medical implants.
Tantalum’s use in capacitors alone consumes 551 tons of the 1,160 tons produced worldwide. By 2030, the amount needed for capacitors will rise to an estimated 1,410 tons. Currently, Tantalum is mostly produced in Australia, Brazil and Canada.
European Parliament voted to ban all products containing conflict minerals in May 2015. This decision will affect 880,000 companies in the EU alone, possibly creating a significant shortage and increase prices in coming years.
The automotive industry is the largest global consumer of Tungsten and is one of the main drivers behind its demand and growth. In particular, Tungsten’s resistance to corrosion, warping, and wear, make it ideal for automotive uses.
By far, the largest consumer of Tungsten is China, accounting for 55% of total world consumption in 2010, followed by the U.S. (13%) and Europe (12%). China is also forecast to maintain 78% of global production through 2018. The outlook for supply looks bleak due to mine closures, production disruptions, and lack of new supply from western mines.
The price of Tungsten is expected to rise due to supply and demand until 2017.
The major applications of Copper are electrical wiring (60%), roofing and plumbing (20%), and industrial machinery (15%). Roughly half of all Copper mined is used to manufacture electrical wire and cable conductors. Electrical devices use Copper wiring because of its many inherent beneficial properties, such as high electrical conductivity, tensile strength, corrosion resistance, and ease of installation.
More than 95% of all Copper ever mined has been extracted after 1900, and over half has been extracted in the last 24 years. The total amount of Copper on Earth is large, but only a fraction of these reserves are economically viable to source. Various sources estimate existing Copper reserves to last between 25 and 60 years.
Cobalt is a very valuable raw material. Cobalt steel is one of the strongest alloys and is used for drill bits and milling. Highly-stressed parts in mechanical engineering, like aircraft turbines, also rely on Cobalt steel. Its applications as an alloying element make the raw material a strategically important metal. It is needed for batteries for hybrid & electric cars, mobile phones and laptops, and serves as a coloring pigment in porcelain and ceramics.
Cobalt demand in the battery industry alone could rise 17% from 2013 levels -- meaning about 7,000 metric tons more per year. Tesla has a mandate to source its raw materials from North America, and the USGS pegs Canada’s 2013 Cobalt production at 8,000 tons. Cobalt shortages are likely to occur in 2017, the same year the Tesla factory opens for production.
90% of the world’s Cobalt is harvested as the by-product of Copper and nickel mining. Since Cobalt is closely tied to those metals, if Copper and/or Nickel mining decreases, so will Cobalt supply. Even if things go smoothly, the global Cobalt surplus is dwindling, and demand will outpace supply by 2017.
Uses for Molybdenum products are mostly industrial, and include energy generation, water turbines, wind and nuclear power, transportation, mining, mechanical engineering, building construction and fabrication, and flat screens.
China is the world’s largest Molybdenum producer. While producing 32% of Molybdenum worldwide between 2000 and 2013, China’s contribution is expected to decline to roughly 28% between 2019 and 2023. China controls 38% of the world’s reserves and of current world production, making them the global market leader. Other large reserves are found in the U.S. and Chile. Approximately 200,000 tons are produced worldwide, with almost 30% of demand met by recycling.
Molybdenum demand has increased significantly in recent years. Supplies cannot meet demand over the next few years, and there is a shortfall expected in 2017.
Products containing Nickel play a major role in everyday life and are found in many recognizable industrial and consumer items such as cell phones, medical equipment, and rechargeable batteries. Due to corrosion resistance, Nickel is a historical substitute for decorative Silver. Nickel also makes an excellent alloying agent for certain other Precious Metals.
The largest producers of Nickel are the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, China, and Australia. Nickel consumption, as a percentage of total global production: 46% for making Nickel steels; 34% in nonferrous alloys and super alloys; 14% in electroplating, and 6% for other uses.
The major applications of Tin are food preservation containers, metal alloys, coating to prevent corrosion, and lithium-ion batteries. In 2011, about 253,000 tons of Tin was mined in China (45%), Indonesia (30%), Peru (12%), Bolivia and Brazil (7%).
It’s estimated that at current consumption rates, the Earth will run out of minable Tin in 40 years. However, it could be closer to 20 years based on extremely conservative extrapolation growth of 2% per year. This could mean supply crunches and rising prices in years to come.
Tin is in critically short supply primarily due to demand from the electronics industry and emerging Asian economies, along with diminishing production and use of Tin in products. Tin faces a supply shortage as old mines close, ore grades decline, and limited new supply comes on-stream. Additionally, the biggest Tin mine in South America is set to close in 2017.
Gold is one of the few elements to occur in a natural state. Gold is used in many products including jewelry, coinage, dentistry and medicine, protective coating on artificial satellites, and as a reflector of electromagnetic radiation.
Found in veins and alluvial deposits, around 1,500 tons of Gold is mined each year. About two-thirds come from South Africa, and the rest, predominantly from Russia. The world consumption of newly produced Gold is about 50% jewelry, 40% investment, and 10% industrial.
Currently, the paper Gold market is at least 100 times greater than the physical market. Governments have added 477.2 metric tons to their reserves in 2014, the second-biggest increase in 50 years, and 17% more than 2013, according to the World Gold Council.
Palladium has many uses and is found in medical instruments and dentistry, catalytic converters, jewelry, aircraft spark plugs, and is a key component in cold fusion.
As a Rare Precious Metal, few regions worldwide produce Palladium. In 2007, Russia was the top global producer of Palladium (44%), followed by South Africa (40%). Canada (6%) and the U.S. (5%) are the only other significant producers. Russia and South Africa, known to be higher-risk jurisdictions, account for over 80% of global Palladium supply.
World demand of Palladium has increased from 100 tons in 1990, to 300 tons in 2000, and is expected to remain strong through 2017. Many sources also speculate the Russian stockpile has long been over-sold, and there is not nearly as much Palladium in the ground as believed. Coupled with the growing unrest between Russia and the West, a supply crisis could be underway within the decade.
Platinum is required in the manufacturing of many industrial applications including pharmaceuticals, fiber optic cables, jewelry, and in the coating for missile cones and jet engine nozzles. Estimates state one-fifth of everything we use either contains Platinum, or requires Platinum in its manufacturing. Given its important uses and scarcity in the Earth’s crust, only a few hundred tons are produced annually making it a highly valuable precious metal commodity.
South Africa accounts for 80% of world Platinum production, even though they have seen a substantial supply decrease related to labor disruptions and safety stoppages. A number of marginal mines have closed, and more closures seem likely. Of the 245 tons sold in 2010, 113 tons were used for vehicle emissions control devices (46%) and 76 tons for jewelry (31%).
Supply growth for Platinum was marginal over the past several years, and strong demand has been underpinned by growth in ETF buying, Chinese jewelry demand, and strong industrial use. The increasing number of personal computers will have a positive effect on Platinum demand in the future.
Rhodium’s major use is as a catalyst component in the three-way automobile catalytic converters. As Rhodium is inert against corrosion and most aggressive chemicals, and because of rarity, it is usually alloyed with Platinum or Palladium for use in high-temperature and corrosion-resistive coatings.
Rhodium price is historically variable. In 2007, Rhodium cost approximately eight times more than Gold, and 450 times more than Silver, rising above $10,000 per ounce. The economic slowdown in mid-2008 pushed Rhodium prices sharply back below $1,000 per ounce; prices rebounded and have stabilized in recent years.
According to a January 2015 report from Deutsche Bank, global demand will exceed supply every year through 2020, resulting in an accumulated shortfall of 530,000 ounces.
The metal finds use in the electronics (50%) and the chemical industry (40%), with smaller amounts in creating alloys. In electronics, it previously was used for electrical contacts, but now goes into chip resistors. In the chemical industry, Ruthenium is used in the anodes for chlorine production in electrochemical cells.
Supply of Ruthenium is unstable, with only 20 tons being produced annually. Both the top producer and largest reserve holder is South Africa, whose production is notoriously disrupted by politics, economic unrest, and failures in the power grid. Ruthenium is among Earth’s rarest metals, and demand is rising.
Outside of new recycling methods, if Ruthenium supply is disrupted, there is simply no new source of the scarce metal.
Silver has many uses and is one of the best antibacterial elements available. It is essential to water filtering, medicines, and several current and future nanotechnologies which need this property such as refrigerators and air conditioners. With a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from catalysts to dental technology, it is not surprising Silver is one of the most sought-after industrial metals.
Silver production averaged around 21,000 tons in the last few years, and the largest producers are Peru, Mexico, and China.
Demand now outstrips supply, as China and India have increased imports. In 2015, India alone is expected to import one-third of yearly global production, marking a 30% increase over 2014 figures. As demand continues to increase, and supply dwindles, the market for this metal will increase rapidly. Worldwide Silver shortage are expected in the future. Consumption is already higher than supply, and if the situation persists, above-ground stockpiles face depletion.