Strategic & Critical Metals in Washington, D.C.

by Jack Lifton on October 26, 2009

in Event Reviews

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I co-chaired a conference in Washington, D.C. last week, Oct. 20-22, called “Supply Chain Management for Strategic & Critical Metals.” It was an eye-opener for me with respect to both the current level of interest and of knowledge of this topic among private industry end users of strategic & critical metals, government(s), producers (mining companies), economists, mining analysts, and metal traders.

The conference was organized and managed by Infocast, a Los Angeles based firm that produces some 60 conferences a year including many well attended ones on alternate energy (wind and solar, for example) and energy storage (batteries). I was asked several months ago by Infocast if I would work with them to create this conference and help plan its agenda and choose speakers. I agreed, because I wasn’t then aware of any other conference themed on this topic, and I wanted to get this theme into the public’s awareness. I believe that this was the first public conference open to non specialists on this specific topic.

The list of attendees included a large delegation from Canada’s Northwest Territories, a still mostly unexplored treasure house of natural resources (rare earths, Avalon Rare Metals, North American Tungsten, and the largest diamond mines in the world), which included representatives of the Territorial government. Additionally. The US Government was also very much in attendance. Over the conference’s three days I met individuals from the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Interior.

In addition to Avalon, Canada’s Great Western Mining Group, Canada’s Commerce Resources (tantalum), America’s Molycorp Minerals, and American-located, Canadian-owned Rare Element Resources were present.

General Electric, Denmark’s Vestas (the world’s largest maker of wind turbines), and Intel were there, among other global 1000 manufacturing corporations.

Essentially all of America’s designers and makers of permanent magnets – Thomas & Skinner, Electron Energy, Arnold Magnetic Technologies and Dexter Magnetic Technologies – were also present.

Trade associations attending included the REITA (Rare Earth Industry & Technology Association), the USMMA (United States Magnet Materials Association) and the MMTA (Minor Metals Trade Association), a UK based international group.

The speakers included officials from both the governments of the US and Canada, mining and metals experts and analysts, and procurement specialists.

The CEO of Infocast told me that Infocast plans to repeat this conference in Asia and to expand Infocast’s footprint in the rare metals information space as it pertains to alternate energy and cleantech.

I will be posting excerpts from the conference presentations and my commentaries on them here in the near future.

In the meantime, for your edification, below are some videos that I made during the conference. There are two summary commentaries by me, and interviews of two prominent people that I conducted: Dave Trueman (rare metals geologist) and John Kaiser (mining analyst and publisher of Kaiser Bottom-Fish Online, who both attended and/or spoke at the conference.

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