I read articles off their writers who often make reference to Rare Industrial or Technical Metals as Rare earth metals. I have to take a moment and clean up the matter. I handle RIMs and REEs every day. Both might both be considered metals but that is the location where the similarities end.
First we now have REEs or Rare Earth Elements. These metals include 17 metals, the Lanthanides plus Scandium and Yttrium on the periodic table with the elements. These metals are in a powder form, which makes them difficult to assay and store. One essential aspect which is often mentioned is they usually are not rare. This is true, but finding REEs in large deposits is difficult.
Inside the mining sector REE mines are standalone mines, that concentrate on the mining and refining of REEs exclusively. Currently around 97% of all REEs are mined and refined in China. Historically REE mining and refining has been a dirty business, that has affected the surroundings across the mines. The elements Thorium and Uranium are often found combined with the REEs within the deposits causing the slurry to be slightly radioactive when processed. The usage of highly toxic acids through the processing can also have serious environmental impact. A lot of companies are trying to open REE mines however they are meeting headwinds, as nations and individuals don’t need these mines inside their backyard.
Throughout the last couple of years China has dramatically cut its export of REEs. This and also the increased dependence on REEs have caused a meteoric rise in the need for these metals. The main one area that hardly any people speak about will be the role from the media combined with speculators in raising the need for REE ETF´s in particular. For the last couple years REEs were the rock stars with the metals. This news has calmed as of late, nevertheless the demand and supply factors that caused the metals to soar remain in place. Recently China closed its BaoTao mine until REE prices stabilize.
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Rare Industrial Metals, RIM´s or Technical metals are another group entirely. The RIM´s include metals found in over 80% of products we experience a daily basis. Without these metals you would not possess the world of the Twenty-first century with our cell phones, compounds, flat screen TV´s, highly efficient solar technology and computers. Many of these metals include Indium, Tellurium, Gallium, Tantalum and Hafnium. These metals actually are rare compared to the Rare Earth Metals that causes a lot of confusion. These metals are in a metallic form, stable and easy to keep and ship.
RIM´s are mined as a by-product of base or common metal mining. For instance Tellurium can be a by-product of Copper mining and Gallium can be a by-product of Aluminum and Zinc mining. The mining of the RIM´s currently are typically subject to the markets for your base or common metal mining. When the Copper mines of the world choose to cut production due to Copper losing value, this will have a big influence on the quantity of Tellurium that can be refined. Up until now, because of the previous small size of the RIM market, many companies usually do not wish to get money into better technology to mine and refine these metals. The RIM´s would need to be valued greater to get the eye of the mining industry.
When China cut exports of REEs they also cut exports of RIM´s. This put pressure about the worth of these metals. RIM´s have risen in value, but nowhere close to the meteoric rise of the REEs. Most of the metals increased in value around 47% this season and 25% to date in 2011. There is certainly still a lot of room for development in the value of these metals (not based on speculation like REEs) as demand is exceeding supply now plus the near future.
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For Example, when REEs and also the stock trading game recently fell sharply the RIM´s came down slightly in value but have held their particular extremely well. Over a further note, in accordance with Knut Andersen of Swiss Metal Assets, ¨Even though prices from the Rare Industrial Metals continue to go up in value, consumers could eventually only see a very small boost in the price of the finish products, as there is so very little of each and every metal utilized to produce these products. And if the folks can´t afford a smartphone they are going to still buy less expensive phones that also make use of the same Rare Industrial Metals¨.
The necessity for RIM´s has risen sharply over the years and can carry on growing at astronomical rates. China, India, Latin america and also the whole of Africa with hundreds of millions of recent individuals are now buying and taking advantage of computers and cell phones to name just a few products.
The future is bright for your technologies and the Rare Industrial Metals that will make them work and for anybody who participates in stockpiling these metals now to satisfy future increased demand.