The Little Known Metals Giant that Rules a Global Market – by Mark Burton (Bloomberg News – July 25, 2023)

(Bloomberg) — When China’s Vital Materials Co. bought up a $600 million stockpile of obscure critical minerals in early 2020, it barely raised an eyebrow outside the niche world of minor metals.

Spin forward a few years, and the influence of a company some people in the industry have still barely heard of is a timely illustration of the scale of the challenge to loosen China’s grip on what have become key raw materials.

As the US and Europe rush to secure supplies to underpin their push into green technology, China has control over so many key elements, from lithium and cobalt used in batteries for electric vehicles to rare earth metals needed for high-strength magnets in wind turbines. Vital dominates the market for a range of so-called minor metals that feature majorly in lists of critical minerals published by the US, European Union, UK and Australia.

The company holds the biggest share of the markets for selenium, tellurium, indium and bismuth, which are used in solar energy, flat-screen televisions and pharmaceuticals, according to people familiar with the matter. It places in the top three for gallium and germanium found in touch-screen phones, satellites, and high-end semiconductors.

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