A strategic metal is one which is essential to an industrial process and for which there is no actual or commercially viable substitute. There are many strategic metals in various areas of industry and interest in this sector is set to grow significantly as their scarcity increases. Strategic metals are a vital part of 21st century life and include metals referred to as strategic metals, technology metals and minor metals, as well as including certain precious metals.
With a growing global population, and emerging middle classes in countries spreading from Africa to Asia, there will be an unprecedented consumption for products that utilise strategic metals in their manufacturing.
Strategic Metals are used in many different ways, in construction, aviation, renewable energy, consumable products, cell phones, computers, televisions, strategic energy technologies, electronics, automobiles (including the new wave of hybrid’s and plug in electric vehicles), and many other industrial applications.
There are 69 different metals included in the six widely used strategic metals lists that are compiled by the following organisations: The British Geological Survey, American Resources Policy, MMTA, EU & UK Science & Technology Committee, and Kaiser.
In recent years, there has been a rapid growth in demand for particular metals with some demand compounded by the political risks associated with the geographical concentration of their supply. This has led to government and global corporate concern in regions such as the EU and the US where many hi-tech metals users rely almost 100% on imports. China currently dominates global production of strategic metals and is the leading global producer of 28 of the 52 strategic metals referred to on the British Geological Survey risk list.