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  5. Silver

rare strategic metals

Why Rare Strategic Metals for Asset Protection?


Over the last few years there has been a flurry of news reports discussing how important the rare earth metals are to the world economy and technology of today. We have heard how China controls over 95% of the production of the rare earth metals. The rare strategic metals are a group of metals also vital to the world economy that do not make it to the headlines because they are a much smaller market and most are not traded on the LME, (London Metals Exchange). This market is quietly gaining attention among private investors.

Similar to the rare earth metals, rare strategic metals are 95% or more controlled by China. In the 1990´s China made the decision to focus on the metals, and quickly put many mines out of business throughout the world. In 1992 Deng Xiaoping, President of China said, ¨The Middle East has its oil, China has rare earth metals¨. In 2010-2011 China restricted exports of these rare strategic metals by 70%. The Chinese have decided that they no longer need to export the metals. The demand for rare strategic metals within China´s borders are enough to use up 100% of all metals produced. China can now tell companies to produce their high tech products in China with low priced local metals or risk being cut off from metals by producing their products in other countries.

The rare strategic metals are a very inelastic group of metals. These metals are mined primarily as a bi-product of other metals like copper and zinc. This makes it very difficult to increase the amount of metals mined. It is not profitable for mining companies to open mines for the sole purpose of mining these relatively low profit metals as far as mining is concerned.

Demand for these metals is growing exponentially. Smart phone sales, solar power, LCD screens, national defense, Apple iPads, aviation, hybrid vehicles and nuclear energy are all using these metals. National Geographic calls these elements, ¨The Secret Ingredient of almost Everything¨.

The convergence of growing demand and restriction of exports out of China has produced an opportunity of grand proportions for people who see the future use of technology and alternative energy growing. One company out of Germany stepped up and saw the trend. Schweizerische Mettallhandels and its partner for the America´s Swiss Metal Assets saw an opportunity to assist forward thinking clients in setting aside some of these rare strategic metals in their own portfolios.

Swiss Metal Assets has designed the product around small portions of the metals so that most clients can afford to enter the rare strategic metal market. Previously only large companies or institutional investors could afford entry in to this little known market. The metals are put in, ¨Baskets¨, of metals used in certain industries. Swiss Metal Assets purchases the metals from Haines and Maassen a metals trader who has been in business since 1948 supplying German companies with metals.

  1. The Key Industries Basket contains 6 metals
  2. The Solar and Energy Basket contains 3 metals
  3. The Construction and Engineering Basket contains 6 metals
  4. The Defense Basket contains 5 metals
  5. Gold
  6. Silver

The process of storing these rare strategic metals for your portfolio is relatively simple.

  1. Buyer chooses what baskets of metals to purchase.
  2. Basket is filled by, Haines and Maassen in Germany.
  3. Baskets are transported to Switzerland to be added to the vault in the tax free zone.
  4. Buyer decides to sell.
  5. Baskets are liquidated through Haines and Maassen free of Swiss taxes.
  6. Funds are transferred into preferred currency/bank of the seller.

This product was designed to assist in sheltering client assets from the uncertainty of the world currency and financial markets. The team at Swiss Metal Assets can also set up an IRA account for interested parties. If this is something that interests you please contact the team at Swiss Metal Assets.

By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy

China Will Continue to Dominate the Rare Earths Market in 2011

Editor’s Note: Prices for many precious and base metals hit record highs in 2010, as economic uncertainty rattled around the globe. What does 2011 hold for gold, silver, platinum, palladium, copper and other metals? Kitco News reporters have prepared a series of stories which examine what is in store for 2011, not only for metals but for currencies, stocks and the overall economy. These stories will be posted on during the holiday period and also will be featured in a special section. Stay tuned for video highlights as well.

(Kitco News) - China’s dominance of global rare earths output will continue in 2011, yet at the same time other nations are starting to make preparations to pull more metal from the ground and reduce China’s stranglehold on the market in future years.

Until the last few months, the mention of rare earth metals likely would elicit a blank stare unless the conversation involved someone in a specific sector that uses the elements.

Rare earth metals, known as REEs, burst into the mainstream media limelight during the past several months, with articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, on major wire services and televised segments on CNBC. The big exposure came with a flap that developed when China, which controls 95% to 97% of the current REE global output, stopped exporting to the Japanese.

Fears continue over the supply of rare earth metals, which consist of 17 elements used in creating a variety of consumer, environmental and industrial-driven technological products. Despite some movement expected in 2011 and beyond to develop greater supply from other global sources, the Chinese still hold the shovel.

“They have the ability to dictate the market if they want to,” said Charl Malan, senior metals and mining analyst at Van Eck Global. The company offers a number of metals-related investments and this fall started the first U.S.-listed exchange-traded fund for equities of companies involved with producing, refining and recycling rare earth/strategic metals.

“With rare earths growth in the next five years about 225,000 tons, that’s about 9% (year-on-year) growth number,” Malan said. “Currently, supply is about 125,000 tons, out of which China produces about 120,000 tons.”

Major importers have come to depend on China due to its ability to manufacture REEs at a reasonable cost. The embargo China placed on exports to Japan has been devastating to the Japanese and shows the strength of the REE demand China commands. Japan was the leading importer of REEs.

“News out of China is a big part of it,” said The Mercenary Geologist Mickey Fulp. “It is a purely speculative sector. As news comes out of China about export quotas, relaxing export quotas or news of any kind on that regard supply and demand fundamentals of the rare earth elements sector is going to affect prices.”

Fulp said China controls well over 90% of the current supply. The dominance is mainly because the Chinese have developed the ability to manufacture these minerals in such a way that the rest of the world could be falling behind quickly, not because rare earth metals are really that rare.

“For me, if I look at the bigger picture for rare earths, this is what’s essential,” Malan of Van Eck said. “There’s an abundance of rare earths around the world. It’s not so much the mining, it’s the fact we don’t have the manufacturing capacity and we don’t have the skill sets or the equipment. That’s my biggest concern.”

Malan believes that China has invested its resources in such a way that it is now properly positioned for the future in terms of manufacturing capacity, but more importantly, well placed from a knowledge standpoint.

“To have the refined product really work, you obviously need very highly educated, highly skilled people specifically within an industry,” Malan said. “There’s something like 800 people with Ph.D.s specifically linked to rare earths. They don’t just focus on the equipment, the processing and the manufacturing side of it but also the manpower and the knowledge base behind it.”

A half century ago China was not among the leading producers of REEs. Between 1950 and 1980, the U.S., India, South Africa and Brazil were considered to be the front-runners in production. During the 1980s, China began underselling competitors, leading to consumers purchasing cheap supply from the Chinese.

This had a negative effect on REE mines in several countries, leading to most being shut down. Molycorp Minerals mine in California was once the largest REE producer in the world but was forced to close in 2002. The mine is set to reopen in 2011 and should begin contributing production by 2012.
“In 2012, there will be additional supply from Molycorp which will be 20,000 (metric) tons,” said Marino G. Pieterse, publisher and editor of Gold Letter International, Uranium Letter International and Rare Earths Elements International.
Molycorp is not the only rare earths company beginning REE production in the next few years.
“In 2013 you’ll have three other companies that will begin producing REEs,” Pieterse said. “Frontier Rare Earths will produce 10-20,000 (metric) tons, Greenland Minerals and Earths LTD will have 40,000 (metric) tons and then there’s Rare Elements Resources LTD, which will have 20,000 (metric) tons.”
Lynas Corporation in Australia is also slated to begin REE production, with tonnage reaching over 20,000.
Analysts said that the move towards wider production could mean there will be an over-supply of REEs by 2014-2015, which will bring stability to prices.
Despite the title of being rare, REEs are in abundance. With countries other than China developing the means to manufacture these metals coupled with the need to introduce and maintain greener technologies, REEs are expected to perform well in the coming years.
“I see bigger and better things for the entire sector,” Fulp said.
Aluminum alloy: aerospace
Phosphors, ceramics, lasers
Re-chargeable batteries
Batteries, catalysts, glass polishing
Magnets, glass colorant
Magnets, lasers, glass
Nuclear batteries
Magnets, lasers, lighting
TV color phosphors: red
Superconductors, magnets
Phosphors: green, fluorescent lights
Magnets, lasers
Lasers, vanadium steel
X-ray source, ceramics
Infrared lasers, high reactive glass
Catalyst, PET scanners

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