It’s turning out to be a great year for minor metals. Rechargeable-battery ingredient cobalt has gained 83 percent, while ruthenium, used in the chemical industry and electronics, is up 63 percent.
The latest star is vanadium, an obscure silvery-grey metal thought to have been used to harden steel as far back as the Crusades. The metal, which is also used in energy-storage batteries, has surged 67 percent since mid-July, according to Metal Bulletin data.
Much of vanadium’s rise has been driven by policy changes in Beijing. The China Iron & Steel Research Institute has proposed increasing the amount of vanadium required in construction steel, which would boost consumption, according to VTB Capital and SP Angel research. The new standard is expected to be announced in September.
“There are fundamental supply and demand issues that have driven the re-rating,” said Julian Treger, chief executive officer of Anglo Pacific Group Plc, which owns vanadium royalties. “Prices could go higher.”
However, while prices are soaring, there’s currently no easy way to invest directly in vanadium. The metal isn’t traded on any exchanges and for a company like Glencore Plc, which describes itself as one of the largest producers of primary vanadium, the metal represents a small percentage of the group’s total production.
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