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- What Are the Strategic Metals Offered by Swiss Metal Assets
- The Financial Crisis Began Five Years Ago
- China to Cut Rare Earth and Strategic Metal Production
- Strategic Metals that make your Computer Work
- VW Upset Over Chinese Firm Espionage
- Why Do We Buy Metals?
- In a Down Economy Tungsten Continues to Outperform
Today there was an article on CNBC telling us that the Bull market in silver is finished. Last week we heard that the Bull market was finished in Gold. What is an investor to do with all the noise around us? When silver was approaching $50 in June 2011 the media was happy to tell its viewers and readers to buy. It is very difficult to focus on the end game when the media continues to get it wrong.
The public keeps falling for the same trick year after year. Peter Schiff, Congressman Ron Paul and Marc Faber all said that the real estate bubble would burst while the media laughed at them. Today we have the media telling us that it is ok to bring our hard earned currency back into the stock market. Does all seem well to you? My gut feeling is telling me that something is terribly wrong with the system and that the risk of a serious crisis is still a possibility.
I would like to share with you my approach to precious metals investing. My approach may seem ultra conservative, but it has worked for almost a decade. Physical metal in my possession or 100% allocated in my name in a private vault is the only way to go for my family. I do not worry about the ups and downs of the silver and gold market. When it is time for a purchase, I do not try to time the market. When the cash is available I place an order. People ask me, ¨Randy why are you not worried about silver and gold crashing?¨ My reply is easy, do you really think that the governments around the world are going to show restraint when it comes to devaluing their currencies?
Here are a few reasons to not trust currencies.
- China has signed 16 currency trade agreements bypassing the US Dollar.
- Ben Bernanke and the Fed have announced that they want to continue to devalue the US Dollar.
- Trade wars, nations trying to keep their products cheap by devaluing their currencies, recently Brazil said the government will use this tactic.
- Governments around the world are devaluing currencies to pay off national debt, instead of raising taxes. Raising taxes is political suicide.
The other question people ask is, “when will you sell?¨. The answer to this question is a very personal one, but my approach is pretty simple. I have a set goal for the value of my metals. When the price reaches that value, I will then sell my silver and gold and buy real estate or possibly equities. For me the precious metals are a tool to build wealth. When I sell, I am just moving to a different asset class. When I can buy a $100k house for 600 ounces of silver it will be time for me to sell. Similar to everyday life, if we don´t focus on set goals, we will accomplish very little. Even if it takes another five years for silver and gold to reach my price goals I am okay with it.
Will there be times in the climb forward, when silver and gold take large price drops? Of course there will be, but these are the times when the market just gave you the opportunity to buy more precious metals at a discount. I am just an average guy who wants to be able to sleep good at night. I don´t want to be worrying whether or not my call or put options are in the money. So if you want peace of mind, please do not listen to the media, focus on your goals and you will be ok.
Tim Geithner has announced that the US Treasury is dipping its fingers again into the Federal Employee Pension Fund. Over the last few years governments are getting more and more comfortable raiding the funds set aside for its citizens. The US has been raiding Social Security for years bringing it to the brink of insolvency or should I say a corpse. Here is the breakdown of the nations that have decided to get careless with its citizens retirements.
- Portugal raided its Pension Fund to meet its deficit requirements to the tune of 5.6 Billion Euros.
- Ireland raided its Pension Fund to meet its deficit requirements to the tune of 24 Billion Euros.
- Argentina raided its Privately managed Pension Fund to meets it deficit requirements to the tune of 29 Billion Dollars.
- Hungary is attempting to change 15 Billion Dollars of Private Pension Funds back into the State system.
The US Treasury decided it was ok to suspend reinvestments in the Federal Pension Fund. Over the last 20 years the US Treasury put its fingers in the cookie jar six times to avoid hitting the debt ceiling. The Obama administration has its back against the wall. I believe they fear another fight over the debt ceiling, during an election year. Tim Geithner has effectively kicked the can down the road for a few months. The debt ceiling needs to be addressed, this is not going away. We all know that they will just raise the debt ceiling again. Do you think they will ever cut spending? I have my doubts.
How about IRA´s and 401k´s Mr. Geithner? There is around 6 Trillion Dollars of assets residing in IRA´s and 401k´s. That is a substantial amount of money and seems ripe for the picking. The US Federal Government has shown that it has no reservations about taking what does not belong to them. If Social Security was a piggy bank for politicians just think how they might look upon our IRA´s and 401k´s.
What would the US Treasury do first? They might require US citizens who put a portion of their salary into 401k´s and IRA’s to invest a certain percentage into low paying US Treasuries. Then imagine that situations further deteriorate. The US Treasury then decides that you have to increase your purchases of US Treasuries. Then the worst case scenario happens and the US defaults or hyperinflation occurs rendering your retirement portfolio worthless. I hope it never gets this far, but we prepare for the worst and hope for the best. The Federal Reserve is looking more and more primed for QE3. They will not stop, it might as well be called QE Infinity. Prepare yourself, I know I am.
The element so instrumental in the success of CIGS or Copper Indium Gallium Selenide solar panels garners little respect. If you do some research on Gallium you will see very few articles on this element. What you see is people talking about how to make melting spoons, and talk of the metal melting in your hand due to its low melting point of 85° F or 29.8° C. Here we are going to go over the history of Gallium and its uses in technology today.
Gallium has the symbol of Ga and the atomic number 31 on the periodic table of the elements. In 1875 Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran discovered Gallium spectroscopically. He saw Gallium´s characteristic two violet lines. Gallium does not occur free in nature. Lecoq was able to obtain the free element using electrolysis.
Gallium is found in bauxite, sphalerite and coal. It is primarily extracted from Aluminum and Zinc production. The exact amounts mined and recycled are very difficult to quantify. According to the United States Geological Survey the total amount mined in 2010 was approximately 106 t and the total recycled was approximately 78 t. Gallium supply is highly reliant on other Aluminum and Zinc mining for its supply, when the prices of the base metals fall the amount of Gallium available will be highly affected. Similar to other rare industrial metals, mining companies will not invest in the production of these metals because the markets are so small.
The uses of Gallium are found all around you. Semiconductors, LED´s, medicine, electronic components, CIGS solar and new tech like IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc and Oxygen) LCD screens. The new iPhone 5 will have this kind of LCD. Over 90% is used in electronic components in the form GaAs (Gallium Arsenide). Recently CIGS solar panels reached an unprecedented 20.3% efficiency once again proving that CIGS is the most efficient form of solar on the market. The technology that will greatly increase the use of Gallium is smartphones. Analysts predict that smartphone use will grow at a rate of 15-25% over the next several years. Recently LED´s backlit screen TV´s and computer monitors have been all the rage. The LED screen market will continue to grow, further putting strain on the small Gallium supply.
The top producers of Gallium are China, Kazakhstan and Germany. Once again China has a strong position in the production of a rare industrial metal. The difference with Gallium is that almost 40% of the metal produced every year is coming from recycling.
With all of the new technologies coming along using Gallium what will the market for this metal look like in a few years? Unlike some metals like Silver and Gold, Gallium is not traded on the LME (London Metal Exchange). This makes the price of Gallium very stable. Rare industrial or technical metals are small markets with big possibilities. So if you are looking for an investment that is rarely talked about, Gallium could be a good option.
By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy
Rumors are swirling around the net about what Apple is going to do about the new display for its iPhone 5. We know that it is going to be an IGZO (Indium, Gallium, Zinc , Oxygen) display. We also know that it will be 4 inches. What I do not know for sure is the manufacturer of the display. Some speculate Sony and Hitachi others say Sharp. From what I have been following it looks like it will be Sharp. Whoever makes the display the faithful are bound to be thrilled. These panels are also bound to be used in the next Apple iPad
According to Shuji Sako of Sharp, ¨The IGZO LCD panel´s performance outclasses anything attainable with conventional amorphous-silicon TFT panels.¨ IGZO transistors have mobility of its electrons up to 40 times higher than amorphous-silicon thin-film transistors. The IGZO transistors can also be made smaller and have the same performance. This helps the display save 30% in energy consumption and higher resolution over the traditional amorphous-silicon TFT panels. The display is said to perform at 330 dpi. The IGZO display would also enable the iPhone 5 to be thinner.
The demand for small and mid-size LCD panels is growing rapidly putting strains on the supply chain. What many tech blogs fail to say is that this amazing growth also puts strains on the natural resource supply chains. The technology needs Indium, Gallium and Zinc. Two of these metals have been deemed to be at Critical Levels according to the British Geological Survey and the US Geological Survey. Over 95% of these rare industrial or technical metals are supplied by China. Even if the prices of the metals go up 100% the end user will see a very small price increase because such a small amount of the metals are used in each device.
By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy
I read articles from other writers who often refer to Rare Industrial or Technical Metals as Rare Earth elements. I would like to take some time and clear up the issue. I deal with RIM’s and REE´s on a daily basis. The two might both be considered metals but that is where the similarities end.
First we have REE´s or Rare Earth Elements. These metals consist of 17 metals, the Lanthanides plus Scandium and Yttrium on the periodic table of the elements. These metals are in a powder form, making them difficult to assay and store. One important factor that is often mentioned is that they are not rare. This is very true, but finding REE´s in large deposits is difficult.
In the mining sector REE mines are standalone mines, that focus on the mining and refining of REE´s exclusively. Currently around 97% of all REE´s are mined and refined in China. Historically REE mining and refining has been a dirty business, which has affected the environment around the mines. The elements Thorium and Uranium are often found along with the REE´s in the deposits causing the slurry to be slightly radioactive when processed. The use of highly toxic acids during the processing can also have serious environmental impact. Many companies are trying to open REE mines but they are meeting headwinds, as nations and people do not want these mines in their backyard.
Over the last few years China has dramatically cut its export of REE´s. This and the increased need for REE´s have caused a meteoric rise in the value of these metals. The one area that very few people talk about is the role of the media combined with speculators in raising the value of REE ETF´s in particular. For the last couple years REE´s were the rock stars of the metals. The news has calmed as of late, but the supply and demand factors that caused the metals to soar are still in place. Recently China closed it BaoTao mine until REE prices stabilize.
Rare Industrial Metals, RIM´s or Technical metals are another group entirely. The RIM´s are made up of metals used in over 80% of all products we use on a daily basis. Without these metals you would not have the world of the 21st century with our mobile phones, hybrid cars, flat screen TV´s, highly efficient solar energy and computers. Some of these metals include Indium, Tellurium, Gallium, Tantalum and Hafnium. These metals really are rare compared to the Rare Earth Metals which causes a great deal of confusion. These metals are in a metallic form, stable and easy to store and ship.
RIM´s are mined as a by-product of base or common metal mining. For example Tellurium is a by-product of Copper mining and Gallium is a by-product of Aluminum and Zinc mining. The mining of the RIM´s currently are for the most part at the mercy of the markets for the base or common metal mining. If the Copper mines of the world decide to cut production due to Copper losing value, this will have a huge impact on the amount of Tellurium that can be refined. Up until now, because of the previous small size of the RIM market, many companies do not feel the need to invest money into better technology to mine and refine these metals. The RIM´s would have to be valued much higher to gain the attention of the mining industry.
When China cut exports of REE´s they also cut exports of RIM´s. This put pressure on the value of these metals. RIM´s have increased in value, but nowhere near the meteoric rise of the REE´s. Most of the metals increased in value around 47% in 2010 and 25% so far in 2011. There is still a lot of room for growth in the value of these metals (not based on speculation like REE´s) as demand is exceeding supply now and in the future.
For Example, when REE´s and the stock market recently fell sharply the RIM´s came down slightly in value but have held their own extremely well. On a further note, according to Knut Andersen of Swiss Metal Assets, ¨Even though prices of the Rare Industrial Metals continue to go up in value, consumers will eventually only see a very small increase in the price of the end products, because there is so little of each metal used to produce these products. Also if the people can´t afford a smartphone they will still buy less expensive phones that still use the same Rare Industrial Metals¨.
The need for RIM´s has risen sharply over the years and will continue to grow at astronomical rates. China, India, South America and the whole of Africa with hundreds of millions of new consumers are now buying and using computers and mobile phones to name just a few products.
The future is bright for the technologies and the Rare Industrial Metals that make them work and for anyone who participates in stockpiling these metals now to meet future increased demand.
By: Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Guy