The increasing uncertainty in the investment field, from rising food and fuel prices, collapsing home values, worsening unemployment rates, and unstable government debt, has meant
Rare Industrial Metal – Bismuth
that many people are worrying for their financial security in the future. Some are turning to new solutions, often through investing in previously unconsidered metals instead of the traditional choices of gold and silver. One such a candidate is bismuth.
You may know bismuth better as a chemical used for heartburn relief and for curing stomach ailments — the “bis” in Pepto-Bismol stands for bismuth. It is also found in a number of other cosmetic and pharmaceutical products and has many industrial uses. The metal has grown rapidly in demand over the past 20 years, largely because it is an effective and very safe substitute for lead. It is also valued for having the lowest toxicity of all heavy metals, for its non-carcinogenic characteristics, and for its low melting point of 271 degrees Celsius.
Metals are valued according to both their scarcity and potential usages. Bismuth is about twice as abundant as gold (ranking 69th out of all the elements found in the Earth’s crust) but has a high number of practical purposes, both current and in-development.
The metal’s unique properties allow it to be used in-free machining steels, brass, pigments, and solders, as a mechanism to activate fire sprinklers, as an additive to improve metallurgical quality, and as a holding instrument for grinding optical lenses. Researchers in the United States, European Union, and Japan are investigating the possibility for the metal to be used in lead-free solders, liquid lead-bismuth coolants for nuclear reactors, and metal-polymer bullets.
Bismuth is becoming a metal of choice for investors in these financially unsure times. It is dense and therefore easy to store but is very significantly undervalued relative to other elements when scarcity and practically as a physical investment are taken into consideration. This makes the metal even more appealing when compared to other popular and scarce precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and pallidum.
The metal is currently sold at very low prices, yet still only few people have taken up the investment opportunity. Since around 2005, the metal has seen a rapid and continuing increase in value including a rise of 7 percent in just one year between 2009 and 2010. As industrial uses continue to consume the global reserves, investors begin to stockpile bismuth for safety and investment purposes, and researchers find more uses for the metal, the true price potential should become apparent.