The Metal Trump Wants More Than Gold
China has a monopoly on one of the most strategic metals on the planet, and Washington is anxious to change that.
Global dominance at this point in the game means control of the rare earths elements that form the backbone of existing technology and the future of technology, and while everyone is busy playing at war with oil and gas, Beijing is busy sitting on a monopoly of our most precious strategic metals.
There are 16 metals in total that form the world’s strategically critical rare-earth elements--and China controls the supply of every single one because it controls 96% of production.
One of these crucial metals is Cesium.
It’s worth up to twice the price of gold, ounce for ounce, there are only three producing mines in the world, and all of them are controlled by China.
The only question in this game now is whether there is any chance for North America to get its hands-on new cesium of its own to get out from under a Chinese monopoly.
But while there are only three cesium mines in the world, the potential is in new supply. Of five cesium occurrences in Canada’s Ontario province, a small-cap Canadian explorer called Power Metals owns 100% of three of them (West Joe, Tot Lake and Marko).
The company discovered the pegmatites at West Joe Dyke in August 2018, intersecting high-grade cesium mineralization in six drill holes when it was targeting lithium instead.
So, the focus now is not on what has been lost to China, but the promise of new North American critical cesium.
Exactly How Strategic Is Cesium?
Cesium is extremely rare globally. In May 2018, the United States Department of the Interior included lithium, cesium and tantalum on its list of Critical Minerals.
The supreme technological war of global dominance can’t be won without these metals, so whoever controls them has the upper hand.
Cesium is described by the German Institute for Strategic Metals (ISE) as “the most electropositive of all stable elements in the periodic table”, and the heaviest of the stable metals. Cesium is “extremely pyrophoric, ignites spontaneously when in contact with air, and explodes violently in water or ice at any temperature above -116 ° C”.
Laboratories use cesium compounds for strategic organic chemistry, including in x-ray radiation for cancer treatments.
The list of commercial and industrial applications is long and varied, from catalyst promoters, glass amplifiers and photoelectric cell components, to crystals in scintillation counters, and getters in vacuum tubes.
Much cesium demand also comes from the oil and gas industry, which uses cesium formate brines in drilling fluids to prevent blow-outs in high-temperature, over-pressurized wells.
In terms of world dominance, the “cesium standard” is the key. This is the standard by which the accurate commercially available atomic clocks measure time, and it’s vital for the data transmission infrastructure of mobile networks, GPS and the internet.
That means it has serious defense applications as well, including in infrared detectors, optics, night vision goggles and much, much more.
At high purity levels, using the 2018 price for 99.98% pure cesium metal, it’s worth about $79 per gram--twice the price of a gram of gold, according to renowned geologist Mickey Fulp. Most uses required 98% pure cesium, which was set at about $39 for 25 grams in 2018. Otherwise, it’s hard to get a world market price on cesium because there is no trading of this strategic metal.