What’s Up And Down With Vanadium?

Date: Apr 02, 2019

Vanadium, that little-known metal used mostly in the steel industry, saw a dramatic price increase from lows near US$ 2.50 per pound in 2016 to over US$ 30 per pound in late 2018 — a twelve-fold increase. And yet since November 2018 the price halved. It now stands around US$ 15.50 per pound and continues to tick down. What are the reasons propelling vanadium’s surge up and then down? And where might it go next?

Looking to China

The global supply of vanadium pentoxide, V2O5, the principal economic mineral form, is in the range of 150 kt/yr, containing just less than 85 kt/yr of vanadium, a relatively small and niche market. The Chinese produce around 55 kt/yr of vanadium, or 65% of the market. Like many other commodities, China controls price and demand through production or usage. The recent price spike and fall are related to the Chinese goal of improved safety of construction through the use of higher strength steel rebar. The addition of 0.2% vanadium to the steel alloy increases strength by 100% and reduces needed weight by up to 30%.

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