Niobium is a soft, grey, crystalline, ductile metal often found in the minerals pyrochlore and columbite. Niobium is considered quite rare. In 2018, niobium was declared a “strategic metal” by the U.S. government, with stockpiling recommended. The U.S. is currently a large importer of niobium.
- For an investor looking to diversify their portfolio with an investment beyond precious and base metals, niobium provides an investment opportunity tied to economic activity, such as infrastructure and pipeline projects.
- Niobium-alloyed steel is relatively lightweight, has good corrosion (rust) resistance, and a unique resistance to radiation damage.
- Demand for niobium is expected to increase as the world economy continues to recover from the downturn that began in 2008 and has recently been negatively impacted by a global manufacturing decline and rising trade barriers.
- Increased demand for niobium is linked to increased consumption of specialty steels or alloys, which are used in the manufacture of automobiles, buildings, ships, refinery equipment, and the aerospace industry.
- For example, according to SpaceX, the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket is made from a niobium alloy.
- In addition, increased global demand for cell phones, computers, superconducting magnets, and other high-tech devices will likely cause an increase in demand for niobium.
- Demand for these types of steels will likely increase with economic development in countries such as Brazil, China, and India.