“Let´s get physical: the golden rules of gold investment” wurde als zweiter Beitrag ins Programm des “Emergency Summit” aufgenommen, einer Konferenz für Investoren, die vom 24.-26.Oktober in Panama City stattfinden wird.
With the “Live and Invest Overseas” conference just finished, the next event is already on the horizon. Lief Simon’s “Emergency Offshore Summit” is aimed at investors worried about the political future of the United States after the elections in November. One way or another, instability may be a result, and the conference focuses on legal precautions private investors have at their disposal to hedge against such effects.
The conference will be from October 24-26 in Panama City, Panama, and I will be speaking on two topics: physical investments in strategic metals, and in precious metals. Let’s not make it one of these:
To register for the event please click here. Looking forward to seeing you in Panama!
Happy to announce that I will be speaking about opportunities and risks of strategic metal investments as part of wealth preservation strategies at a conference on “Retiring Overseas” in Las Vegas. Date is the 31st of August. Click here for conference details. Hope to see you there!
Part 2 of the series deals with Rare Earth Elements. Without them, our modern life styles would not be possible. But their production carries a high environmental price, and vulnerabilities. How will REE markets develop in 2016? Read the full story here.
Happy to report that the enhanced page on strategic metals is now active on the Kitco website. Increasing the focus on the private investment sector, standard packaging sizes made room for historic price charts for each of the metals prices are reported on. The charts can be downloaded or printed easily directly from the page. This is what the new windows look like:
Pricing information and charts are now accessible directly from the Kitco home page, too. If you look at the “Favorites” bar you will see the new menu item:
If you have any feedback on how the information is presented, or questions regarding any of the metals, metals you would like to see listed etc please let me know.
Terms like precious metals, rare earth elements, rare metals, minor metals, specialty metals etc. are used throughout reports leaving many people confused about what they actually mean. The term “Technology Metals” is, admittedly, loosely defined as well. Time for some definitions:
Precious Metals (8 metals):
Ag – Silver
Au – Gold
Pt – Platinum
Pd – Palladium
Rh – Rhodium
Ru – Ruthenium
Ir – Iridium
Os – Osmium
Rare Earths Elements (17 metals):
Ce – Cerium
Dy – Dysprosium
Er – Erbium
Eu – Europium
Gd – Gadolinium
Ho – Holmium
La – Lanthanum
Lu – Lutetium
Nd – Neodymium
Pr – Praseodymium
Pm – Promethium
Sm – Samarium
Sc – Scandium
Tb – Terbium
Tm – Thulium
Yb – Ytterbium
Y – Yttrium
I recommend this very detailed blog by Mike Albrecht (unrelated) on the difference between rare earth elements, and rare metals.
Strategic Metals (undefined)
This is the group of metals that, other than the first two, isn’t clearly defined. Strategic metals in the context of Metal Megatrends are metals driving technology on a larger scale. So this group is somewhat flexible in its composition as my interviews and reports will follow market trends:
Co – Cobalt
Ga – Gallium
Ge – Germanium
Hf – Hafnium
In – Indium
Li – Lithium
Re – Rhenium
Se – Selenium
Te – Tellurium
Tl – Thallium
Metals are all around fascinating, and I will continue to report on others if and when they make an appearance to present a new solution, or even new mysteries as this one.
2015 was not a good year for technology metals (precious metals, rare earth elements and strategic metals). From a perspective of industrial use, what is the likely development in demand and price in 2016? Part one of my condensed analysis was just published exclusively on Kitco News. Click here to read. Parts 2 and 3 will deal with the other groups of metals.
Although nanotechnology is still in its infancy, according to on one technology research and development company, the trend towards smaller devices like Apple’s iWatch and the need for microprocessors means that this sector will continue to be an important demand source for technology metals like gold and silver.
Click here to read this week’s full article published on Kitco News.
Metals, which conduct electricity, and insulators, which don’t, are polar opposites. At least that’s what we’ve believed until now. But we have discovered that a well-known insulator can simultaneously act like a conductor in certain measurements. We don’t yet know the reason for this mysterious behaviour but it is likely due to new and exciting quantum effects.
The finding is surprising because electrons in insulators, such as glass, are largely stuck in one place, yielding high resistance to the flow of electricity. On the other hand, electrons in conducting materials such as metals flow freely over long distances. So how can you possibly get electrons behaving in both ways in a single material?
One way is to have a sandwich comprising a surface that is conducting juxtaposed with a bulk that is insulating. A category of materials known as topological insulators has recently been discovered to have this property. But what we found is a material in which the bulk itself behaves both as a metal and an insulator.
The material we explored is a well-known insulator that has been studied since the 1960s and has been of interest more recently due to its potential topological insulating behaviour: samarium hexaboride.
The samarium hexaboride crystal we used in the experiment. Geetha Balakrishnan, Author provided
We made the discovery by applying a magnetic field and looking for undulations in sample properties such as the resistance and magnetisation – a property known as “quantum oscillations”.
Such quantum oscillations are inherently a property of metals, where they map out a construction known as the “Fermi surface”, which roughly represents the geometry traced by the orbits of electrons in the material. In this way, they reveal details about the movement of electrons – which is why the measurement is typically used to better understand the properties of conducting materials.
So it came as a shock when we placed a small sample of the insulating material on a cantilever in a magnetic field, and saw rapid wiggles on the screen indicating that the electrons were travelling long distances characteristic of a metal.
“You do realise, this is impossible,” was my colleague’s first response when I told him the news. The next surprise was when we cooled down the material further, close to absolute zero (which is zero Kelvin, or -273 deg C). We then found that not only was the material defying predictions of insulating behaviour, it was also severely violating the rules for conventional metals.
Explaining the inexplicable
How can we resolve the apparent contradiction inherent in a material that is both a metal and an insulator? One possibility is that, contrary to current understanding, electrons in certain insulators can somehow behave as if they were in a metal.
This behaviour may involve the strange properties of quantum mechanics. According to quantum mechanics, particles can occupy two states at the same time.
That is why the famous Schrödinger’s Cat can be both dead and alive. Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment in which a poor cat is put in a box with a flask of poison and a radioactive source. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. But as long as we don’t check the monitor, we have to consider the cat both dead and alive.
In this way, the strange behaviour of our material could be explained by the fact that we’ve discovered a new quantum state that fluctuates between being a metal and an insulator.
It could also be that we have discovered a new quantum phase of matter. Quantum physics can result in trillions of electrons in materials acting collectively to exhibit dramatically different properties from what they do individually. Our discovery of a material that is neither a conventional metal nor a conventional insulator could be such an “emergent” quantum phase of matter.
An exciting outcome of our finding is that many creative theoretical proposals are being invented to potentially explain our baffling results. In order to understand the new physics underlying our discovery, we plan to do more experiments on high-quality crystals to distinguish between predictions of the various theories.
Whichever the explanation turns out to be, decades of conventional wisdom regarding the fundamental dichotomy between metals and insulators are likely about to be turned on their head.