What is the next big investment opportunity? I am looking for a good resource metal since that is my specialty
Well then, if metals are your specialty then you know that the value of the metal is dependent on it’s supply and demand. The supply being not only new metal but recycled and the demand being the uses for the metal. Then around that value, which is really based on future supply and future demand, is the speculation on the value. Hence some metals like gold are almost all volatility due to it’s low utilization, low production but high re-use and some metals like silver lost enormous amounts of usages as in film to the point where there are no more silver mines and silver are now only produced by recycling and by mining for other metals. However the basics for all metals is that unless there are changes in their supply and demand, they reflect the rate of inflation. Hardly an attractive investment opportunity to add volatility just to maybe have the rate of inflation. Indeed concrete is a better commodity to invest in as it’s demand increases when times are good and when times are really bad, governments tend to pour money into civil projects.
As to metals that may have a changing basis in demand, Thorium is basically a waste product right now but it actually has an energy density as high as Uranium and can be used in molten salt reactors far more safely, more efficiently and with less radioactive waste than solid core Uranium reactors. There is a massive potential in Thorium and China will be opening their molten salt reactor in 2020. However, such is the nature of Thorium that it’s value probably won’t go up by much, there’s just too much of it and we have tons of stored Thorium that could provide our energy needs for a very long time. Also a molten salt reactor just needs the fluoride thorium salts to be melted into the reactor, there is no need for the expensive specialized fuel rods that are only available from the manufacturer of the reactor which is essentially the inkjet cartridges of the nuclear reactor world so Thorium producers won’t benefit from an increase in demand, the benefits in this increase in demand will go to the utilities that have the funds to build the reactors. Note, nuclear reactors are financed by the reactor builders and are built at a loss to the reactor builders, they make their money selling the fuel rods so only the utilities that are cash rich enough or have enough political clout to lobby the government can build molten salt reactors but once they do, they can literally scoop up common rocks and melt them into the reactors for the Thorium. There will be a dramatic change in perception about Thorium uses but aside from a few well heeled utilities, it’s not clear on how to capitalize on it.
Some people argue that electric vehicles will prompt a demand for silver in batteries and fuel cells. But silver will have to fight the uphill battle of recovering from the loss of film and most of the new battery and fuel cell technology are about using lithium and about avoiding expensive catalysts like silver and platinum. Indeed, one of the most promising batteries is lithium and seawater, a combination that normally explodes but there’s new coatings that avoids the unwanted chemical reactions.