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Sunrise Kills Off NioCorp's Scandium Economics

Dec. 05, 2021 6:29 AM ETNB, SREMF, NB:CA, CLQ:CA15 Comments
Tim Worstall profile picture
Tim Worstall


  • This is not specifically about NioCorp, it's about the scandium market and all companies that might attempt to address it.
  • Companies that base their approach on higher than current prices, for volumes vastly greater than the current market, aren't going to work.
  • This is a general point about the way that markets work, not just specific to one company.

Scandium symbol in square shape with metallic edge in front of a mechanical arm that will hold a chemical container. 3D render. Element number 21 of the Periodic Table of the Elements

alejomiranda/iStock via Getty Images

Scandium is lovely stuff

As I've mentioned before here, I spent a decade as the globe's leading wholesaler of scandium. For most of those years, I handled 50% and more of the entire planet's usage. I am now out of that

This article was written by

Tim Worstall profile picture
Tim Worstall is a wholesaler of rare earth metals and one of the global experts in the metal scandium. He is also a Fellow at the Adam Smith Inst in London and an writer for a number of media outlets, including The Times (London), Telegraph, The Register and even, very occasionally indeed, for the WSJ. This account is linked with that of Mohamad Machine-Chian: https://seekingalpha.com/user/52914142/comments

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (15)

HailXenu profile picture
Thanks Tim, excellent overview. A quick question: if scandium oxide is priced on the order of $1000-1500 / kg, or ~$1-1.50 / g, why is scandium fluoride priced over $200/g? Is there an advantage to the fluoride form, and is it expensive to produce?
Tim Worstall profile picture
@HailXenu If ScF (I think? Or ScF3, whatever) is $200 a g then that's because someone is trying to buy 1 g of it. $199 will be the cost of printing the catalogue, packaging up 1g, sending 1 g via DHL etc. Customer of mine used to buy the oxide and prepare the fluoride, not wholly easy but not all that difficult either.
HailXenu profile picture
@Tim Worstall Thanks! Do you have a rough rule of thumb for the size of the scandium market today? My math puts it $50-100M based on pricing I've seen quoted, but there are also research reports floating around that claim it's closer to $500M. Any insights? Thanks again!
Tim Worstall profile picture
@HailXenu $15 to $20 million maybe? 15 tonnes at $1,000 per kg Sc2O3? Anything higher is people talking about the market value of things containing Sc - that's different.
Thank you for your contribution to our understanding here on Seeking Alpha.

I certainly deeply appreciate your candid viewpoint and KNOWLEDGE.

Thank you.
Your professional experience in this field, makes your opinion so much valuable.
Continue to learn from your articles. Your input is greatly appreciated.
G H profile picture
@Tim Worstall

Thanks for continuing to keep an eye on this situation and educate neophytes (see what I did, there? ;-)) about the context.

NeoCorp's public statements have always touted "latent demand"; for example, from their October 2018 press release:

"Independent estimates of latent demand for scandium, defined as demand that cannot be satisfied because of a lack of supply or a lack of knowledge of available or affordable supply, peg such demand at several hundred tonnes per year in the aerospace sector alone.{1}
{1} Source: OnG Commodities, LLC. This data is part of a scandium market assessment prepared for NioCorp by OnG in April 2017.

OnG Commodities is Andrew Matheson's consultancy. So, one guy. Based on the fact that I've seen you, Tim, quoted broadly on Scandium for 10+ years; a few other people occasionally (Jack Lifton, who has written for S-A, comes to mind); and Matheson nowhere but by NioCorp... well, I don't like infinite risk so I never short anything, but if puts were available on Neo, I'd buy some.
05 Dec. 2021
Experts and many other third parties disagree with this assessment. Time will tell soon who is correct.



Tim Worstall profile picture
@NE41 This middle one I actually refer to myself, above in the piece. And that Traxys offtake agreement - I'd love to see what the conditions are. Because they've also signed a similar one with Platina.
05 Dec. 2021
@Tim Worstall I would not say the agreements are similar. There are clear differences between a memorandum of understanding that was signed with Platina and the commercial sales agreement with Niocorp, which Traxys is obligated to purchase 12 tonnes per year from Niocorp. I too would love to see the commercial sales agreement that Niocorp has with Traxys, but that information is not being disclosed due to competitive reasons.

Niocorp is currently in a “self imposed” quiet period. I’m guessing that we will find out soon if the commercial sales agreement holds water with the entities that they have been in discussions with regarding financing.

G H profile picture

The first and third links above are to press releases from NioCorp itself, not a "third party" - and they quote only OnG Commodities - which is the consultancy of a self-styled commodities expert, Andrew Matheson. I can't find anything he has written about Scandium since his 2017 opinion for NioCorp. The middle source ultimately just quotes Matheson again.

Matheson's last set of predictions didn't come true; why believe him now?
Disagree with this article? Submit your own. To report a factual error in this article, . Your feedback matters to us!

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