Cesium Wars: Is America Ready To Challenge China Over This Critical Metal
FN Media Group Presents Oilprice.com Market Commentary
London – February 18, 2020 – China has a monopoly on one of the most strategic metals on the planet, and Washington is anxious to change that. Global dominance at this point in the game means control of the rare earths elements that form the backbone of existing technology and the future of technology, and while everyone is busy playing at war with oil and gas, Beijing is busy sitting on a monopoly of our most precious strategic metals. Mentioned in today’s commentary includes: Teck Resources Limited (NYSE:TECK), Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd. (NYSE:TRQ), Pretium Resources Inc. (NYSE:PVG), Magna International Inc. (NYSE:MGA), Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd (NYSE:AEM).
There are 16 metals in total that form the world’s strategically critical rare-earth elements–and China controls the supply of every single one because it controls 96% of production. One of these crucial metals is Cesium. It’s worth up to twice the price of gold, ounce for ounce, there are only three producing mines in the world, and all of them are controlled by China.
The only question in this game now is whether there is any chance for North America to get its hands-on new cesium of its own to get out from under a Chinese monopoly. One of the world’s only cesium mines isn’t producing anymore, and what stockpiles exist are all owned by China.
But while there are only three cesium mines in the world, the potential is in new supply. Of five cesium occurrences in Canada’s Ontario province, a small-cap Canadian miner called Power Metals (PWM,PWRMF) owns 100% of three of them (West Joe, Tot Lake and Marko).
The company discovered the pegmatites at West Joe Dyke in August 2018, intersecting high-grade cesium mineralization in six drill holes when it was targeting lithium instead. So, the focus now is not on what has been lost to China, but the promise of new North American critical cesium.
Exactly How Strategic Is Cesium?
Cesium is extremely rare globally. In May 2018, the United States Department of the Interior included lithium, cesium and tantalum on its list of Critical Minerals. This is part of the reason companies like Teck Resources (TECK) and Turquoise Hill Resources (TRQ) have fared so well despite wider market volatility Teck could be one of the best-diversified miners out there, with a broad portfolio of Copper, Zinc, Energy, Gold, Silver and Molybdenum assets. Its free cash flow and a lower volatility outlook for base metals in combination with a potential trade war breakthrough could send the stock higher in H2 of this year.
Despite its struggles, however, Teck Resources recently received a favorable investment rating from Fitch and Moody’s and will likely benefit from its upgraded score. “Having investment grade ratings is very important to us and confirms the strong financial position of the company,” said Don Lindsay, President and CEO. “We are very pleased to receive this second credit rating upgrade.”
Likewise Turqouise mines a diversified set of metals/minerals including Coal, Gold, Copper, Molybdenum, Silver, Rhenium, Uranium, Lead and Zinc. One of the fortes of Turquoise hill is its good relationship with mining giant Rio Tinto.
Turquoise has seen its share price languish last year, and the successful development of its world-class Oyu Tolgoi project in Mongolia is of utmost important to the future of this miner. The supreme technological war of global dominance can’t be won without these metals, so whoever controls them has the upper hand.
Cesium is described by the German Institute for Strategic Metals (ISE) as “the most electropositive of all stable elements in the periodic table”, and the heaviest of the stable metals. Cesium is “extremely pyrophoric, ignites spontaneously when in contact with air, and explodes violently in water or ice at any temperature above -116 ° C”. Laboratories use cesium compounds for strategic organic chemistry, including in x-ray radiation for cancer treatments.
The list of commercial and industrial applications is long and varied, from catalyst promoters, glass amplifiers and photoelectric cell components, to crystals in scintillation counters, and getters in vacuum tubes. Much cesium demand also comes from the oil and gas industry, which uses cesium formate brines in drilling fluids to prevent blow-outs in high-temperature, over-pressurized wells.
In terms of world dominance, the “cesium standard” is the key. This is the standard by which the accurate commercially available atomic clocks measure time, and it’s vital for the data transmission infrastructure of mobile networks, GPS and the internet.
That means it has serious defense applications as well, including in infrared detectors, optics, night vision goggles and much, much more.
According to the USGS, the United States relied 100% on cesium imports in 2019. It’s hard to get a world market price on cesium because there is no trading of this strategic metal, but according to the most recent Mineral Commodities Summary, one company offered 1-gram ampoules of 99.8% (metal basis) cesium for $63.00, a slight increase from $61.80 in 2018, and 99.98% (metal basis) cesium for $81.10, a 3% increase from $78.70 in 2018.
But imagine China being able to starve manufacturers of something like cesium, which would seriously disrupt U.S. industry and hinder the development of critical military equipment. That’s exactly why this rare metal was left off Washington’s tariff lists in the trade war back-and-forth.
But Dr. Julie Selway, a key geologist for the Ontario Geological Survey during the tantalum boom of the early 2000s, and now VP of exploration for Power Metals, says the three properties the company is drilling are hoped to have similar finds as the strategically important Sinclair mine in Australia.
“They are shipping their resource, which they say is higher than 10% cesium-oxide, and ours have some that are between 12% and 14% of cesium-oxide,” Selway–one of the world’s most renowned experts on pegmatites–told Oilprice.com.
Power Metals has intersected cesium (Cs) mineralization in 6 drill holes on West Joe Dyke, with “exceptionally high-grade” Li and Ta intervals. They also found Cs mineralization in drill core in the first new dyke below Main Dyke, as well as in the drill core in Northeast Dyke.
How Deep Is China’s Control?
China has dominated rare-earths since the 1990s with power in this sector that rivals OPEC for oil–even if it doesn’t make the headlines like oil and gas does. In 2010, China cut back on exports, triggering major price spikes all over the world because of the critical nature of these metals to the tech industry. That woke Washington from its slumber, but only slightly.
Beijing’s next move, according to the Wall Street Journal, was to manipulate the market so that rare earth elements (RREs) were cheaper in China than outside the country. What this did was prompt some major manufacturers and tech industries to set up shop in China, where they could get supplies at a lower cost.
In the entire world, there are only three pegmatite mines that can produce cesium: one is the Tanco mine in Manitoba, the second is the Bitika mine in Zimbabwe, and the third is the Sinclair mine in Australia.
Where does China fit into this picture? It controls them all, beyond its own borders, with few players like Power Metals and its three-play Cesium venue which could challenge that total control. Washington’s emergence from its cesium slumber, however, was short-lived.
A United States company essentially sold off its control of cesium to Sinomine Resources of China last summer–even after the U.S. placing the metal on the critical list. Prior to this June 2019 deal, cesium production was largely controlled by Boston-based Cabot Corporation, which owned the Tanco mine in Manitoba, but which also has operations in China. This mine was shut down in 2015, with demand met from stockpiles.
Now, Tanco and Bitiki are no longer producing, but Sinomine Resources Group holds all the cesium ore stockpiles. What that means is that this playing field isn’t just of strategic proportions–but it’s locked up.
The only company in the cesium supply chain right now is Chinese, and one of the only companies on the radar for potential commercial cesium supplies in North America is Canadian junior Power Metals, which is hoping to prove that it’s sitting on the world’s fourth minable deposit of the critical metal.
That’s why, finally, in December 2019, the United States and Canada agreed on a strategy to reduce the need for rare-earth metals mined or controlled by China.
Other companies shaking up China’s rare-earth dominance:
Pretium Resources (PVG) is an impressive Canadian company engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of a variety of resource properties in the Americas. Pretium has an impressive portfolio and if you can catch the stock while the price is right, there could be huge opportunity for upside.
With Pretium’s variety of assets, this mining giant is a key figure in Canada’s resource realm. Investors know a good thing when they see it and have definitely taken note of this company’s ambitious and forward-looking drive.
Based in Aurora, Ontario, Magna International (MGA) is a global automotive supplier is gutsy and innovative–and definitely tuned to the obvious future–clean transportation. A great catalyst is its development of a combo electric/hydrogen vehicle–a fuel cell range-extended EV (FCREEV). It’s not going to produce them (for now, at least) but plans to use the model to show off its engineering and design prowess and produce elements of the electric drivetrain and contract manufacturing. It’s insightful, forward-thinking and smart value/low cost for shareholders.
Canadian based gold producer, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd (AEM) is an especially noteworthy company for investors. Why? Between 1991-2010, the company paid out dividends every year. With operations in Quebec, Mexico, and Finland, the company also is taking place in exploration activities in Europe, Latin America, and the United States.
While Agnico primarily focuses on gold, it made this list because it’s a prime example of sustainability and environmental consciousness, and that means everything in a world rapidly shifting away from traditional mining.
**IMPORTANT! BY READING OUR CONTENT YOU EXPLICITLY AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
This news release contains forward-looking information which is subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Forward looking statements in this release include that prices for cesium will retain value in future as currently expected; that PWM can fulfill all its obligations to maintain its properties; that PWM’s property can successfully mine commercial quantities of cesium; that the three properties the company is drilling are hoped to have similar finds as the strategically important Sinclair mine in Australia; that occurrences and indications of a commercially sized deposit become reality; that high grades found in samples are indicative of a high grade deposit; and that PWM will be able to carry out its business plans. These forward-looking statements are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking information. Risks that could change or prevent these statements from coming to fruition include that aspects or all of the properties’ development may not be successful, mining of the cesium may not be cost effective, the price of cesium may not stay high and it may never be profitable to mine cesium; PWM may not raise sufficient funds to carry out its plans, changing costs for mining and processing; increased capital costs; the timing and content of upcoming work programs; geological interpretations and technological results based on current data that may change with more detailed information or testing; potential process methods and mineral recoveries assumptions based on limited test work with further test work may not be viable; competitors may offer cheaper cesium; more production of Cesium could reduce its price; alternatives could be found for cesium; the availability of labour, equipment and markets for the products produced; and despite the current expected viability of its projects, that the minerals cannot be economically mined on its properties, or that the required permits to build and operate the envisaged mines cannot be obtained. The forward-looking information contained herein is given as of the date hereof and the Company assumes no responsibility to update or revise such information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by law.
ADVERTISEMENT. This communication is not a recommendation to buy or sell securities. Oilprice.com, Advanced Media Solutions Ltd, and their owners, managers, employees, and assigns (collectively “the Company”) may in the future be paid by PWM to disseminate future communications if this communication proves effective. In this case the Company has not been paid for this article. But the potential for future compensation is a major conflict with our ability to be unbiased, more specifically:
This communication is for entertainment purposes only. Never invest purely based on our communication. We have not been compensated by PWM but may in the future be compensated to conduct investor awareness advertising and marketing for PWM.V; PWRMF. Therefore, this communication should be viewed as a commercial advertisement only. We have not investigated the background of the company. Frequently companies profiled in our alerts experience a large increase in volume and share price during the course of investor awareness marketing, which often end as soon as the investor awareness marketing ceases. The information in our communications and on our website has not been independently verified and is not guaranteed to be correct.
SHARE OWNERSHIP. The owner of Oilprice.com owns shares of this featured company and therefore has an additional incentive to see the featured company’s stock perform well. The owner of Oilprice.com will not notify the market when it decides to buy more or sell shares of this issuer in the market. The owner of Oilprice.com will be buying and selling shares of this issuer for its own profit. This is why we stress that you conduct extensive due diligence as well as seek the advice of your financial advisor or a registered broker-dealer before investing in any securities.
NOT AN INVESTMENT ADVISOR. The Company is not registered or licensed by any governing body in any jurisdiction to give investing advice or provide investment recommendation. ALWAYS DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH and consult with a licensed investment professional before making an investment. This communication should not be used as a basis for making any investment.
RISK OF INVESTING. Investing is inherently risky. Don’t trade with money you can’t afford to lose. This is neither a solicitation nor an offer to Buy/Sell securities. No representation is being made that any account will or is likely to achieve profits similar to those discussed.
DISCLAIMER: OilPrice.com is Source of all content listed above. FN Media Group, LLC (FNM), is a third party publisher and news dissemination service provider, which disseminates electronic information through multiple online media channels. FNM is NOT affiliated in any manner with OilPrice.com or any company mentioned herein. The commentary, views and opinions expressed in this release by OilPrice.com are solely those of OilPrice.com and are not shared by and do not reflect in any manner the views or opinions of FNM. FNM is not liable for any investment decisions by its readers or subscribers. FNM and its affiliated companies are a news dissemination and financial marketing solutions provider and are NOT a registered broker/dealer/analyst/adviser, holds no investment licenses and may NOT sell, offer to sell or offer to buy any security. FNM was not compensated by any public company mentioned herein to disseminate this press release.
FNM HOLDS NO SHARES OF ANY COMPANY NAMED IN THIS RELEASE.
This release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended and such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. “Forward-looking statements” describe future expectations, plans, results, or strategies and are generally preceded by words such as “may”, “future”, “plan” or “planned”, “will” or “should”, “expected,” “anticipates”, “draft”, “eventually” or “projected”. You are cautioned that such statements are subject to a multitude of risks and uncertainties that could cause future circumstances, events, or results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements, including the risks that actual results may differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, and other risks identified in a company’s annual report on Form 10-K or 10-KSB and other filings made by such company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. You should consider these factors in evaluating the forward-looking statements included herein, and not place undue reliance on such statements. The forward-looking statements in this release are made as of the date hereof and FNM undertakes no obligation to update such statements.
Media Contact e-mail: email@example.com U.S. Phone: +1(954)345-0611