I plan to commence a series of posts on specialty metals and minerals. There are various definitions -  my definition excludes base and precious metals, bulk minerals such as iron ore and energy metals such as uranium.

Specialty metals include those that are alloyed with other metals, such as antimony, titanium and zirconium. Also included are those metals used in specialised applications. For example, neodymium, samarium and cobalt in high performance magnets; lithium in batteries.

Specialty minerals include graphite (and graphene) used in batteries and furnaces, garnet used in water jet cutting, titanium dioxide used in paint, calcium carbonate used in paper and vinyl, talc used in plastics and paper.

Another common characteristic of specialty metals and minerals is that they may be rare, or geographically limited or require very tight specifications. Processing and refining can also be difficult and expensive. Markets can be very small and fragmented, with high barriers to new entrants. Pricing is usually opaque, often only truly understood by insiders.

Unlike gold and base metals, understanding specialty metals (assume “and minerals”) can be a minefield for the investor. For this reason, I am periodically commissioned to research and report on particular specialty metals.

Conclusion

There is value to be found investing in companies involved with specialty metals. But take care.

Periodic Table Courtesy Science Notes

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