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Author: Subject: Speculative investments in chemical elements
woelen

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Speculative investments in chemical elements

I have been reading a little on the abundance of chemical elements, the uses of elements and their current prices.

What I found is that some amazingly rare elements have very low prices, simply because there are no big applications for them. In the past, certain elements also were much cheaper than they are now. Most notable is rhodium, which now costs appr. EUR 800 per gram, but not that long ago it was just a few tens of euros per gram. Price has exploded.

I decided to take a little gamble and purchased a few rare elements over the last one and a half year:

2 kg of 4N tellurium for EUR 375
250 grams of 3N rhenium for EUR 520
2 kg of 4N bismuth for EUR 70
1 kg of 4N5 indium for EUR 350
2 kg of 4N silver for EUR 980

Especially tellurium and rhenium are very rare (tellurium is 3 to 4 times as rare as gold and rhenium is appr. 1.5 times as rare as tellurium). Bismuth is appr. 2 times as abundant as gold, but much rarer than silver. All of these I purchased from european sellers (dutch, german, only the rhenium I purchased from chemcraft.su, which is absolutely trustworthy). On AliExpress I sometimes see even cheaper offers, but I am afraid of fake materials. Maybe I will invest in osmium and ruthenium as well, but prices of these also are quite high at the moment, so no good moment to buy these now.

Altogether it is a nice amount of money, but not a real life-changing amount. Now I just hold it and hopefully one of these elements goes skyrocketing. I see these as investments. If these elements do not go high, I may be able to sell them to element collectors or hobbyists, but that would be more work and hassle, e.g. with the help of eBay.

I also purchased ETFs, which follow the spot price of copper and nickel, for appr. EUR 600 each. I purchased ETFs for these, because having the metals in physical form if you want some decent investment would take too much weight and size. The advantage of ETFs is that you can sell them at any time again. The downside of ETFs is that you pay a yearly fee for holding them (appr. 0.5% of the actual value you hold).

Are there more people over here, who have made such investments?

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Texium

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I don't have much experience with investing, but recently I put some money into silver and gold ETFs. I also invested a little into Air Products stock, as they are one of the world's major purveyors of helium, which is also getting a lot more rare and expensive. Haven't purchased physical quantities of metals as an investment though.

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pantone159
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Is the Te safe to store in such large amounts? I cannot help but be reminded of the story from Pauling about researchers getting 'tellurium breath'. I have a small sample of Te for my element collection, but I would be reluctant to keep kilograms of it around. Also: Is there an actual market for selling the stuff? I have heard that it is actually easy to sell rhodium (though I have not tried!), since it is so valuable now, that even though it is obscure it is not hard to unload.

I would happily keep many kilograms of rhenium around though.
itsallgoodjames
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1kg of iridium for 350 euros? How?

Nuclear physics is neat. It's a shame it's so regulated...

Now that I think about it, that's probably a good thing. Still annoying though.
Fyndium
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If you're afraid of having contamination, seal them in glass ampoules.

What would be the best sources to purchase bulk elements for investment?

One issue with selling metals is to prove they're authentic and pure. The buyer essentially has to have some method of analysis to be able to check it.
pantone159
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 Quote: Originally posted by itsallgoodjames 1kg of iridium for 350 euros? How?

Because it is indium and not iridium
B(a)P
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I have a largish amount of silver for this same reason. I just need to stop using it for chemistry.
clearly_not_atara
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Maybe you could solder a seal around the Te container?

[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
S.C. Wack
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Is the melt value of US 1-5 cent pcs. still higher than the cost?

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woelen

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Storing 2 kg of Te is no issue. It is non-volatile and dense. The 2 kg can be kept in a simple glass jar with air-tight screw cap. I'll put the glass jar in turn in a plastic bag and put this aside. No risk of any Te escaping this.

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pantone159
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 Quote: Originally posted by S.C. Wack Is the melt value of US 1-5 cent pcs. still higher than the cost?

Pre-1982 US cents are 3.1 g of 95% Cu, which at current market price of $8.94 kg Cu, comes out to about 2.6 cents Cu value per pre-1982 US cent. It is illegal to melt them down, for some reason that does not make much sense to me. itsallgoodjames National Hazard Posts: 276 Registered: 31-8-2020 Location: America Lite Member Is Offline Quote: Originally posted by pantone159  Quote: Originally posted by itsallgoodjames 1kg of iridium for 350 euros? How? Because it is indium and not iridium I guess I read that wrong then Nuclear physics is neat. It's a shame it's so regulated... Now that I think about it, that's probably a good thing. Still annoying though. Fery International Hazard Posts: 685 Registered: 27-8-2019 Location: Czechoslovakia Member Is Offline 10 y ago I invested approx 10000 EUR into somewhat like 1200 kg of Cu 0,55 mm sheets when covering the roof of my house. There were not many possiblities of the uppermost roof layer as the roof tilt is only 5 degrees so I decided the Cu is the best durable material able to survive for centuries unlike other roof materials. My second idea when making this decision was: When the house will become very old, suitable for demolition and its value negative due to necessity of demolition works, the only one thing from the house which will still have a value will be that copper and it could be sold into reprocessing facilities. So that won't paid back to me but to someone else and I hope I will be already performing experiments somewhere in chemistry heaven If there is a heaven, it seems not to be materially based. Does chemistry exist there and if yes, how does it look like? Are there good souls well supplied with laboratory equipment, glass, chemicals and information? Metallophile Hazard to Self Posts: 67 Registered: 23-3-2018 Member Is Offline Mood: No Mood I bought 500g of Te for the same reason. It's very rare, and now I have a nice chunk of it. I think it cost me$70.
pantone159
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 Quote: Originally posted by woelen Storing 2 kg of Te is no issue. It is non-volatile and dense. The 2 kg can be kept in a simple glass jar with air-tight screw cap. I'll put the glass jar in turn in a plastic bag and put this aside. No risk of any Te escaping this.

If you were not careful, could there be any chance of H2Te forming somehow and escaping? I know *you* would be careful and knowledgeable, woelen, but would an average person be likely to make a mistake? I am kind of asking because on another forum the idea of saving Te came up and I said I thought it was a horrible idea

Besides any hazards though, it does not seem like a good investment to me. I think it would be very hard to sell. Any investment value depends on selling at some point. Common precious metals have enough spreads, I would expect that on 4N exotic elements would be much more! But strange things happen sometimes in markets.
woelen

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 Quote: Originally posted by pantone159 Besides any hazards though, it does not seem like a good investment to me. I think it would be very hard to sell. Any investment value depends on selling at some point. Common precious metals have enough spreads, I would expect that on 4N exotic elements would be much more! But strange things happen sometimes in markets.

I recognize this risk. That's why my Te-investment is only relatively low. I invested much more in stocks, ETFs and other assets, which can be sold easily through a broker platform. As I said in my first post, it is a bit of a gamble. The Te may become very valuable, it also may become hard to sell. The worst thing which can happen then is loss of 380 euros.

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zed
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Last year, Platinum plummeted for a few days. True value? Unfortunately, I was Covid distracted.

Right now, Platinum spot price is somewhere about a grand an ounce. Well, it was a few days ago.

Had I realized it had fallen so low, I might have gone all-in. I would have made a bundle.

Perhaps three years ago, Ruthenium was $60-70 per Oz. 250-350 now. It's becoming more useful. Lotsa folks looking at the potential of Ruthenium. Platinum is expensive, and Palladium is climbing out of sight. Industrial users drive the market, and they aren't sentimental. They are constantly trying to develop better systems, utilizing cheaper catalysts. If they develop a decent Nickel, Ruthenium, or Tungsten Carbide, Wacker.....Etc, etc. Markets will shift. In the meantime, I wish I'd bought some Palladium when it was Platinum's sickly little sister. She's a big girl now. Oh yeah. If cars really do go electric..... No more catalytic converters. Lower demand for Pd-Pt? Higher demand for some element currently over-looked? [Edited on 18-3-2021 by zed] itsallgoodjames National Hazard Posts: 276 Registered: 31-8-2020 Location: America Lite Member Is Offline  Quote: Higher demand for some element currently over-looked? Now might be a good time to invest in lithium [Edited on 18-3-2021 by itsallgoodjames] Nuclear physics is neat. It's a shame it's so regulated... Now that I think about it, that's probably a good thing. Still annoying though. Tsjerk International Hazard Posts: 2719 Registered: 20-4-2005 Location: Netherlands Member Is Offline Mood: Mood I have some silver bought via an online broker platform, I don't really have the silver physically here with me, but this way I can sell it in a minute. It is called WT physical silver and it is traded on the Euronext Amsterdam market. The minute to minute dealing came in handy in the beginning of February when some people believed the people behind the Gamestop mania would go after silver. The price was driven up to more than$29, I made nice 10% in a couple of days.

[Edited on 18-3-2021 by Tsjerk]
Fleaker
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Now would be a good time to buy rhenium: one of the largest producers of secondary rhenium exited the business (Umicore). As aerospace recovers, it should be a good buy. I think right now it goes for 1000-1100/kg as 99.99 % pellets and that's commercial orders of 500 kg or so.

Too bad about Ir if you all missed the rocket ship ride from last December to now. I thought I mentioned to buy some on this forum last year. Ruthenium is still a good buy even at \$415/oz today. If it really is deployed at large scale for ammonia synthesis and cracking for portable fuel cell technologies, both it and platinum will be MUCH more expensive. I still think platinum is a smoking hot deal at its present price.

Ir will continue to go up due to negative recycling rate and the fact that OLEDs use most of it and don't get recycled.

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Metallophile
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I just got this today! I've been eyeing some Ru too.

S.C. Wack
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Tin has about doubled in the past year. The time to buy has passed maybe but long term it could still double again.

"You're going to be all right, kid...Everything's under control." Yossarian, to Snowden

 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Miscellaneous » Speculative investments in chemical elements Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues