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Supply, Demand, and the March of Science

Just when American Resources has read its thousandth story on companies substituting around scare metals like the Rare Earths to reduce usage, along comes this Platts report on a new discovery in Russia’s RUSAL research labs, working in conjunction with a team from the Siberian Federal University.  Scientists there have fabricated a new aluminum alloy that will enable heavy-duty electric cables to transmit 1.5 times more electricity than current power lines.  Among the alloying agents:  Rare Earths.  So just as researchers work to substitute away from scarce metals by reducing their use, the very same advances teach us more about the inherent properties of the metals — sparking new discoveries.

It’s too early to estimate how much new demand RUSAL’s new alloy might create for Rare Earth resources.  But it’s clear enough that for a full range of scarce metals and minerals, increased supply — already a market imperative — must become a policy priority.