X

Memory cards million units 1000 H

Cell phones

Memory cards

DVD player/recorder, "^CRT-TV

Growth rate %

Figure 10.2 Unit sales and annual growth rates of selected electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in 2006.

DVD player/recorder, "^CRT-TV

Growth rate %

Figure 10.2 Unit sales and annual growth rates of selected electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in 2006.

compiles the current mine production and metal prices with average growth rate in production and prices (1978-2008). Figure 10.3 details the price development of selected metals. Besides a general upward trend, many metals have incurred high volatility and (temporarily) sudden price increases, reflecting a soaring demand from new applications/technologies (e.g., for Ru, In).2 Although partly influenced by speculation (reflecting expected future developments), a substantial contribution to price comes from fundamental supply-demand developments.

In the context of supply scarcities and price peaks, substitution is often mentioned as a possible solution. Successful replacement cases have already been achieved in the past (e.g., Pd by Ni in certain MLCCs). Nevertheless, for technology metals, it is important to realize that the replacement metal is often from the same group of elements (Figure 10.4). Thus, a relief in demand in one area might result in a new (supply) challenge in another. The substitution of Pt by Pd in autocatalysts provides a good example of this. As of the mid-1990s, the expensive Pt was partially substituted by the then less expensive Pd. This led to a large increase in Pd demand (Figure 10.1) and caused a reversal of

Rising prices are one of the reasons behind recent public attention on metal supply security and possible scarcity. Table 10.3 reports on prices until June 2008. Induced by the financial crisis in the second half of 2008, prices of most metals plunged dramatically, but this has been purposely excluded. We assume that after a certain period of reduced demand due to the heavy economic downturn the demand (and thus prices) for technology metals will return to higher levels again, since the fundamental market drivers are not expected to change significantly.

Table 10.3 Current mine production, share of cumulated production, and price development for selected precious and special metals. Data from USGS, GFMS Gold & Silver Survey, Johnson Matthey Platinum, unpublished, and authors' estimates.

Mine

Mined since

Annual

Average price

Annual

Total

production

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