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Assessment of the Potential for Transformational Market Growth Amongst the Critical Metals

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Commodities, Mineral Economics, Mineral Policy, Publications, Recommended, Technical Paper Reviews


Last month I presented an abstract at the AusIMM Third International Future Mining Conference in Sydney, Australia. The presentation was entitled “An Assessment of the Potential for Transformational Market Growth Amongst the Critical Metals” and was co-authored with Josh Wright, Allan Trench and Paul Miller. The abstract previews a paper, that will be published in Applied Earth Science early next year.

A copy of the abstract and the presentation can be found below and on my account.

Assessment of Potential for Transformational Market Growth amongst the Critical Metals – Sykes et al – Nov 2015 – Centre for Exploration Targeting / Curtin University / University of Western Australia from John P. Sykes


“A ‘critical metal’ is one that has important economic uses, but which also faces supply risks for geopolitical or environmental and sustainability reasons. The constrained nature of critical metals supply means proposed solutions to the problem commonly involve reducing demand and therefore reliance, via recycling, substitution and thrifting. However, most critical metals are presently only small markets and therefore such an approach ignores the potential of transformational market growth to reduce supply risk, by creating large, diverse, transparent markets with multiple sources of primary supply, akin to modern base metals markets.

Research is therefore required into which critical metals have the greatest potential for such transformational market growth. This study therefore conducts an evaluation of 49 critical metals to determine which are nearest to the combined breakthroughs in discovery, supply and demand that may lead to transformational market growth.

The study concludes that magnesium, silicon, barium, boron, lithium, cobalt, chromium, vanadium, gallium, strontium, cerium, lanthanum and scandium have the highest potential for transformational market growth and thus efforts to resolve supply risk in these markets may be better focused on overcoming current market constraints and growing these markets, rather than lessening reliance by reducing demand.”