An interesting item I stumbled across in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
Indium, gallium and hafnium are some of the least-known elements on the periodic table, but New Scientist warns that reserves of these low-profile minerals and others like them might soon be exhausted thanks to the demand for flat screens and other high-tech goods.
Scientists who have tried to estimate how long the world's mineral supply can meet global demand have made some gloomy predictions. Armin Reller, a materials chemist at the University of Augsburg in Germany, estimates that in 10 years the world will run out of indium, used for making liquid-crystal displays for flat-screen television sets and computer monitors. He also predicts that the world will run out of zinc by 2037, and hafnium, an increasingly important part of computer chips, by 2017. ...
Estimates of reserves vary widely, and scientists say it is difficult in some cases to accurately forecast demand, says New Scientist's David Cohen. What's more, it is possible that demand for some metals will plateau. Tom Graedel, a professor of industrial ecology at Yale University, found that per-capita consumption of iron leveled off around 1980, suggesting that at some point people in technologically advanced societies might only need so much of any one metal. But Prof. Graedel notes that this hasn't been the case with copper, a crucial component of wiring and computer chips. He predicts that by 2100, global demand for copper might outstrip mineable supplies.
One of my absolute favourite investment strategies is to invest in companies where supply is or will be restricted in the future, especially before the market has figured out a supply crunch may be coming. You can make multiples on your investment.
Earlier this week, I re-established a position in a small Canadian zinc miner I have been in and out of over the past few years. I had not, however, known that there may only be 30 years of supply of zinc remaining. This adds to my bullishness on my zinc play.