While JM Bullion has long offered investors the opportunity to purchase well-known and popular precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, we also strive to provide variety and countless options to our buyers. With other metals such as copper already a long-standing option for buyers, there are other lesser-known and rare metals out there that are becoming increasingly common in bar and round collections. Below, you can learn about some of these more unique metals coming to our collection.
Niobium is a transition metal that is very ductile and light grey in color. It has a crystalline appearance and is a very strong metal with a hardness rating similar to that of titanium. When thin layers of oxide are applied through anodization to a niobium bar, the resulting appearance is brilliant in its range of possible colors. Previously known as columbium, niobium is named for the mythological Greek figure Niobe, the daughter of Tantalus, who happens to be the namesake for tantalum, a metal that niobium was initially mistaken for in the 19th century. The world’s largest producer of niobium is Brazil and its industrial applications are largely confined to an alloy in specialized steel such as the kind used in gas pipelines.
As mentioned above, tantalum is named for the mythological Greek figure Tantalus. A rare metal, tantalum is surprisingly found in various regions around the world. There are natural deposits in several countries on the African continent, from central Africa to both the West Coast and Horn of Africa regions. Tantalum is also found in Australia, Brazil, and China. The metal itself is a hard, blue-grey transition metal that is lustrous in appearance and highly resistant to corrosion.
Nickel is a transition metal that is hard and ductile. What makes nickel unique is that some of the world’s known deposits of nickel come from meteor impacts with the Earth. Nickel is often alloyed with iron as the two most important metals in the production of steel. Millions of tons of nickel are mined around the world each year, with Asia being one of the primary regions of the world for nickel mining. Other major deposits include the Sudbury region in Canada and the Norilsk complex in Russia.
Cobalt is much like nickel in that it is hard and lustrous, as well as ductile. Historically, cobalt minerals have been used in artistic applications to provide blue colorization. In the modern era, cobalt is used in a variety of different alloy combinations for the production of strong steel and in the manufacture of power tools. Much of the world’s supply, as much as 90% by some estimates, comes from Central Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo accounts for as much as 50% of the world’s supply of this valuable metal.
A soft metal that is light yellow in color, ytterbium is not widely used across many industries at the moment. The vast majority of the world’s ytterbium is used to create high-intensity lasers. The low demand for ytterbium in this industry is a benefit because there is a low global supply of ytterbium. Most ytterbium is mined in China, the United States, India, and Brazil.
Silver-white in appearance, indium is a post-transition metal that is the softest metal in the world outside the alkali metal group. Unlike some of the other rare metals covered in this category, indium has the distinction of being a semi-precious metal that has long-term potential as a bullion piece for investors. Most estimates on the world’s supply of indium put its occurrence in the Earth’s crust on the level of silver, with only 300 tons of indium mined each year.
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