EDITOR: | December 1st, 2016 | 5 Comments

Lifton defines “technology metals”

| December 01, 2016 | 5 Comments

ctms2017_final_ver_banner_logoWhat are technology metals and material? They are those chemical elements mostly metals the electronic properties of which enable individuals to control and manipulate the use of electricity to enhance human senses and motive power ability. Modern transportation, communication, information gathering, recording, transmission, and display are universally available only because the electronic properties of the technology metals and materials have allowed for their miniaturization and control .

The core technology metal is copper without which we could not produce, distribute, and utilize electricity to replace other forms of power application at wherever we want it. The industrial revolution was built upon iron, steel, and steam. There is no substitute for steel, but electricity has replaced steam, and ironically the production of copper itself is dependent on electricity (copper is purified by electrolysis). Until the advent of government sponsored research in World Wars I and II, the principal resource drivers of the industrial revolution were coal, oil, iron, and copper with just a few allowing elements for strengthening steel in the mix. The age of technology metals in which we now live began in earnest during World War II and grew exponentially in the generation following the end of that war. The semi-conductor “metals”, silicon and germanium allowed the miniaturization of the detection of electromagnetic waves and more importantly the switching of large currents without the need for mechanical switches. Simultaneously the cauldron of war produced uranium and plutonium in bulk so that not only the production of the ultimate weapons could be done but a new era of non fossil fuel produced heat (to make steam and electricity) could be born.

In the 25 years following the war the periodic table was finally closed for all of the naturally occurring elements and chemists gave metallurgists alloying and physicists a new spectrum of previously exotic chemical elements the properties of the alloys and compounds of which allowed the mass miniaturization of consumer electrical and electronic products. These key technology metals and materials included gallium, indium, arsenic, antimony, tellurium, the rare earths, lithium, and engineered graphite (carbon). Recently nickel and cobalt have also moved from just being alloying elements to being electronically significant element for magnets and batteries. It is the same for zirconium and hafnium in nuclear power generation and electronics.

If any significant proportion of the elements named in the paragraph above were not available commercially then the world would revert to the standard of living or at least the lifestyles prevalent in 1939. Contrast that world with our own and you will understand why we now live in the age of technology metals.

Jack Lifton


Jack Lifton is the CEO for Jack Lifton, LLC and is a consultant, author, and lecturer on the market fundamentals of technology metals. Technology metals ... <Read more about Jack Lifton>

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  • Tracy Weslosky

    Thank you Jack.

    We asked the founder of the term “technology metals” Jack Lifton to provide what he meant — when he coined the term, we all now use. Note that Jack Lifton has been a speaker at all 6 of our Technology Metals Summits — and we are just getting ready to announce the next one….In fact, on behalf of the team of InvestorIntel we are pleased to announce the 6th Annual Cleantech & Technology Metals Summit (@CTMS2017) scheduled for Monday, May 15th and Tuesday, May 16th at the Omni King Edward Hotel in Toronto, Canada. Write us at info@investorintel.com or neil@investorintel.com for more information!

    December 1, 2016 - 1:56 PM

  • Leonard MacMillan

    Wow, the best most succinct description and story line for “Technology Metals” I have seen, thanks. I also posted a link to the article on the Stockhouse Bullboard for a new copper investment I recently made in “COP” TSX.V Coro Mining.

    December 1, 2016 - 5:11 PM

  • Adrian Nixon

    Thanks Jack, a really helpful column. You make clear just how much the march of technology has harnessed the properties of naturally occurring elements in the periodic table. Would Neodymium be another of the key metals to add to this list?

    December 6, 2016 - 4:12 AM

  • Jack Lifton


    By the “rare earths” I mean in order of importance:
    Neodymium, praseodymium, samarium, dysprosium, and terbium,
    The rare earth permanent magnet metals


    December 7, 2016 - 9:50 PM

  • Tim Ainsworth

    Jack, based off today’s SRB data magnetics can probably be broken down further on a supply/demand basis.

    With the State offering prices broadly in line with current market producers only offered up 5t Pr, 45t Nd & zero NdPr for storage, total just 50t, Nth RE didn’t bother to attend.

    By contrast, 280t Dy was offered for stockpile @ $181kg, part of 1354t total Eu thru Y. 280t DyO probably represents 35% of annual Sino demand & 4X ROW data post July 15 price crash. Appears HRE have finally been commoditised from semi precious metal status.

    Although outside the SRB tender, interesting to note Gd has run strongly past couple of months, hard to imagine a direct connection but note Baotou have finally released their first commercial magnetocaloric refrigeration products.

    December 13, 2016 - 10:31 AM

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