Stocks of stored minor metals such as indium growing, but what are the pitfalls?
Scarlett Zhang, vice president of the China-based Fanya Metal Exchange, told the attendees at the Minor Metals Trade Association's 2014 International Minor Metals Conference in London at the end of April that 2,500 (metric) tons of minor metal indium is in stock.
She also informed the conference that figures for other minor metals held in the exchange's 11 warehouses are:
- Germanium: 44.5 tons
- Ammonium Paratungstate (APT - (NH4)10(H2W12O42)·4H2): 10,450 tons
- Bismuth: 10,000 tons
- Gallium: 102.35 tons
- Cobalt 90 tons
- Silver 3.47 tons
- Antimony: 440.55 tons
- Vanadium Pentoxide (V2O5): 35 tons
- Tellurium: 30 tons
- Selenium: 20 tons
You may think, "big deal!" Well, think again. If Zhang's figures are to be believed, then this is a very big deal for some metals—particularly indium, probably one of the largest around.
To give you an idea of what some of these stocks of metal could represent, here's how they stack up against the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) 2013 figures for global production of each metal.
|Metal||Global Production – Tonnes||Fanya's Stocks (% Global Production)|
* Total world production not provided because of lack of data from China and other major world producers.
Needless to say, the figures that really stand out are those for indium and bismuth, especially indium, which shows more than three years of annual global production, and more than five times Chinese annual output, sitting in warehouses in China.
Now, the exchange is three years old, so the indium stocks have been built up over this period. However, the exchange only started trading selenium and tellurium toward the end of last month—April 21 to be precise—and look how much is already held.