Van Eck Rolls Out Rare Metals ETF

October 28, 2010

Van Eck launches a rare metals ETF in the latest sign of increased competition in the space.

Van Eck Global, the New York-based fund firm known for its commodities expertise, rolled out its Market Vectors Rare Earth/Strategic Metals ETF (NYSEArca: REMX) that invests in companies engaged in the production, refining and recycling of rare earth and strategic metals and minerals.

The new fund is the latest foray by a U.S. ETF sponsor into minor metals, amid surging global demand for materials like gallium, which is used to make a host of specialized high-tech equipment, including cell phone chips and solar voltaic cells.

Strategic metals are “essential” to many industries, from technology to power sources to structural materials, Charl Malan, precious metals and mining analyst for Van Eck, said today in a conference call.

“They bridge to the next level of improved applications,” Malan said. “There’s really no substitution for these metals and they are indispensable in their applications.”

These metals, often byproducts of other mining operations, are not only difficult to extract but are also likely to be in increasingly short supply in the next few years. That’s because demand is growing and China, the world’s largest producer of many of them, is implementing tighter controls on production, Malan said.

The Index And The Price

REMX, which tracks the a rules-based, modified capitalization-weighted, float-adjusted index consisting of 24 securities, will invest directly into companies engaged in the production, refining and recycling of up to 49 rare earth and strategic metals and minerals to obtain what the company calls a “pure-play” exposure of the sector.

The benchmark, published by 4-asset management GmbH and calculated by Structured Solutions AG, comprises primarily small- and mid-capitalization names that derive at least 50 percent of their revenues from directly handling the metals.

In July, New York-based ETF firm Global X launched the market’s first lithium-focused ETF. Lithium is key to the renewable energy industry. The first minor metals ETF, the REE Fund, received approval in May to trade exclusively in Switzerland.

REMX has a net expense ratio of 0.57 percent.

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