The Birmingham Centre for Strategic Elements and Critical Materials recently published a report that provides an excellent overview of the sector, which is getting renewed attention in Europe and the US.
The authors point out that although the demand for some technology-critical metals is growing rapidly, the overall market size for them is dwarfed by the main industrial metal sectors – a fact this graph vividly illustrates:
“In some instances this means that the major mining companies have not invested in technology-critical metals and most exploration and development is carried out by junior companies. Single entity mines in niche resources are more vulnerable to price fluctuations.
“It is also important to note however that many of these technology-critical elements are a co-product or by-product of mining operations for the major metals. These are more likely to be produced by the major mining companies, but they are vulnerable to variations in demand for the ‘parent’ major metal.”