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The potential for transformational market growth amongst the critical metals

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Commodities, Exploration, Mineral Economics, Mineral Policy, Mining, Publications, Recommended


This week, a pair of peer-reviewed articles to which I contributed were published in the Applied Earth Science journal of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) and the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM).

The articles are part of a continuing thematic issue on mineral economics and critical minerals. The first, published online in January and discussed in an earlier blog post, is entitled “Discovery, supply and demand: From Metals of Antiquity to critical metals” and considers the history of metals and how we have gone from using small amounts of a few metals (copper, lead, tin, iron etc.) to a global economy that now consumes millions of tonnes of these metals, alongside a range of ‘newer’ industrial metals such as aluminium, nickel and uranium. The article then discusses the key discovery, supply and demand factors that must come together for previously minor metal markets (such as aluminium, nickel and uranium) to become major industrial metal markets.

Drawing from this historical analysis the second article, published online last week, and entitled “An assessment of the potential for transformational market growth amongst the critical metals” considers which of the current crop of 40+ ‘critical metals’ have the potential to outgrow their ‘critical’ status and become major industrial metal markets. After a detailed assessment, we consider magnesium, silicon, barium, boron, lithium, cobalt, chromium, vanadium, gallium, strontium, cerium, lanthanum and scandium to have the best potential for transformational growth.

The first article was co-authored with Josh Wright (Rowton Consolidated) and Allan Trench (The University of Western Australia), with Paul Miller (Vedanta Resources) joining us for the second article. Due credit should go to them for their efforts. Simon Jowitt (Monash University) the editor of the Applied Earth Science thematic issue should also be acknowledged for his considerable editorial contributions.