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Rare World Metals Mint - Pioneering a Market for Technology Metals

There is general consensus that technology metals (precious metals, specialty metals and rare earth elements) will play an even more critical role in future technologies. Not surprisingly, readers of this blog keep asking about how to invest in these metals, and how to physically own them. One such source is Rare World Metals Mint LLC who are offering a series of these metals online to private collectors and investors. TMI spoke with Sean Wells who started the company together with his partner, Christian Gray.

“We’ve been selling metals since September of last year” explained Wells. “I had been buying gold and silver since before the economic downturn in 2008. I did my own research and became interested in many other metals that seemed worthwhile to invest in. If you look at charts available from Wikipedia and the British Geologic Survey you can see that there are metals that are a less expensive than gold or platinum but a lot rarer in the crust of the Earth. The trouble was that, at least at the time, there was no one in North America you could buy them from.”

This lead to finding partners abroad that would supply these metals. RWMM decided to create uniform round ingots of one troy ounce as the standard unit of sale. The first metal the company bought was rhenium.

“Credibility is the most important thing for us. We therefore test, polish and etch every single ingot indicating material and purity, and we add a serial number” said Wells. “We imported and started offering the rhenium after having it tested here in the Cincinnati area. So we knew we had a supplier we could trust. By 2012 we were up to a group of seven different metals, and we kept building from there. Right now we are up to 13 different metals that we offer. At this point it is a tiny niche market but I am convinced it will grow over time.”

Who is buying these ingots? “We do most of our sales on eBay because they have a very big footprint on the internet and a lot of people who are looking for unusual things, or collections of things, go on eBay these days. We also sell directly through our website, and our customers are often from the industry: chemical engineers or scientists. Nobody buys our products in bulk. I think most customers are just curious, or they are collecting them. At this point, we have customers all over the world”.

What about safety? “The metals in their solid form are not toxic, and we ship some of them with a packet of safety information. They are also packaged in ways to prevent possible risks”, explains Wells.

In the absence of an organized market, prices are generally based on cost. Market pricing is an issue, and so is the lack of a ready market to sell these products back into. “We would like to be a market maker but at this point we are not”, admits Wells. But he also believes most customers procure these metals as longer term investments and is optimistic that a market will develop over time.

“These metals are used in many new applications today, and they are very much at risk for a supply chain disruption. As new technologies develop, the prices for some of these metals used by new and upcoming technologies will swing wildly. These metals are rare and irreplaceable in their respective applications. They will have a market eventually, I believe. It is a very thin market right now, and it is not a very accessible market for private investors. That’s why there is a place for companies like us.”

By Bodo Albrecht
tminsider@eniqma.com

 

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in precious metal products, commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.
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