Vanadium, a transitional metal found on the periodic table, is becoming much more than just a metal talked about in high school chemistry class. The silvery gray metal has historically been a by-product of mining and oil-drilling production businesses, but due to technological breakthroughs over the last decade, demand for the metal is growing, and the search for Vanadium is on.
The three hottest areas for vanadium use today are production of steel alloys, vanadium redox-batteries, and a new technology called smart glass.
According to Wikipedia.com, 85% of all vanadium produced is used as a steel additive. When mixed into steel, the steel becomes dramatically stronger and more resistant to heat. These attributes are vital in construction. Lets use an example of a steel bridge–by adding a small percentage of vanadium to the steel, the bridge can sustain weights over 1000 tons, rather than falling apart at 250 tons. Secondly, by having a higher resistant to heat, the bridge can remain standing during an explosion. The next time you drive over a strong new bridge, thank vanadium.
Smart glass, also known as smart windows, is an exciting new technology requiring significant amounts of vanadium. Smart glass is a sheet glass which contains electrically-reactive layers in it’s center. By running a charge through the glass, tinting flips on or off. The darkness of the tint resembles tinted vehicle windows. By installing large sheets of smart glass, new commercial buildings eliminate the need for blinds & shades. Additionally, this vanadium coating has been shown to reflect U.V. rays away from the building, while insulating and preserving heat more efficiently than traditional glass. Temperature control savings for commercial buildings are said to be in the 40% annual range.
The third and most promising use of vanadium, is what’s called the vanadium-redox battery. This battery is different from traditional rechargeable batteries: A charged vanadium liquid stores the energy(vanadium metal can be converted to a liquid). The liquid is then stored in two separate tanks(one for positive liquid, one for negative). When the two liquids meet, a chemical reaction occurs, producing electricity. These tanks can be made in any size, to meet any application–a vehicle, a hospital, or even a small town! A widespread adaptation and use of vanadium redox batteries paints a demand picture for vanadium resembling Mt. Everest.
While the demand picture for vanadium is growing, the supply-side is ridden with bottlenecks. According to CPM group, “China, South Africa, and Russia account for roughly 90% of global supplies.” During an interview with this author, James Corrigan of Stina Resources indicates South Africa represents roughly 60% of world production. South Africa, hmm…remember what happened in 2008 during the South African mine blackouts? The electrical grid failed and platinum mining temporarily came to a halt. Platinum prices exploded as industry and investors scrambled to secure their own supplies. It would be naive to think this cant happen again, to any mineral supply coming from South Africa. It is a country many years away from offering(if ever) a developed mining infrastructure.
Now the final question remains: “If vanadium is a hot metal for the future, with such great supply & demand prospects, how can I get my hands on some?”
Well, it’s easier said than done. There are only a handful of quality vanadium deposits in the world, and even fewer investment choices to access these deposits safely. The largest risk today in mining is political. Appropriation and taxes remain the largest threat to wealth buried underground. For this reason, we recommend staying in mining-friendly jurisdictions of the America’s, more specifically, Canada and the U.S.
Start by looking at a company like Stina Resources, which trades on the Vancouver Exchange, symbol “SQA.” Stina controls a large vanadium property in Nevada, with over 10 million tons of vanadium-rich rock. According to geologic reports, their host rock is a limestone shale–easy to crush and drill through. The soft nature of this host-rock allows the property to be developed at what may be one of the lowest costs in the world. Additionally, the company has an extensive drilling program scheduled throughout the summer. This should expand their resources, and ultimately, Stina’s share price.
Vanadium is far more than just a dusty-old metal talked about by chemistry teachers. Today’s growing technological applications are demanding metals of higher endurance, and vanadium is meeting that demand. Steel alloys, smart glass windows, and redox-batteries represent a slice of a rapidly growing pie. Vanadium is preparing for launch.
Disclosure: No Positions
Disclosure: No Positions