Vanadium

vanadium on periodic table

Wondering how to invest in the vanadium industry? Learn more about supply and demand, as well as players involved in the space.

Vanadium is a silvery-gray transition metal that was first discovered in 1801. It is named after Vanadis, the Norse god of beauty, and occurs in about 65 different minerals.

The metal is mined as a by-product of other metals, most commonly uranium. It is also found in deposits of phosphate rock, titaniferous magnetite, uraniferous sandstone and siltstone. Aside from that, it is present in bauxite and in carboniferous materials such as crude oil, coal, oil shale and tar sands.

Many investors believe the vanadium industry is compelling and are interested in getting involved in this evolving market. Read on for a brief overview of the metal, from supply and demand to how to invest in this exciting industrial and battery metal.


What should investors know about vanadium supply and demand?

China was the world’s largest producer of vanadium in 2021 by far, contributing 73,000 metric tons (MT) to the vanadium industry. Russia came in at a distant second with an output of 19,000 MT and South Africa was in third place with 9,100 MT. China also has the highest vanadium reserves globally.

Most vanadium in South Africa is mined from a formation known as the Bushveld igneous complex, and until 2014 the country was the second largest vanadium producer, accounting for 14 percent of the market. However, in 2015, Evraz Highveld Steel and Vanadium’s Mapochs mine closed, leaving only two vanadium-producing mines operating in South Africa.

In terms of demand, applications using vanadium have grown in recent years, contributing to price growth over the last year. The vast majority of vanadium is used as an additive in the steel industry to make a high-strength product that is lighter, stronger and more resistant to shock and corrosion.

Vanadium content of less than 0.1 percent is needed to double the strength of steel, and although other metals — including manganese, molybdenum, niobium, titanium and tungsten — can be interchanged with vanadium for alloying with steel, there is no substitute for vanadium in aerospace titanium alloys.

Over the last few years, China has increased its vanadium use, producing steel rebar with high tensile strength for construction. Vanadium compounds are also used in nuclear reactors because they have low neutron-absorbing properties. Vanadium oxide is used as a pigment for ceramics and glass, and can act as a catalyst in the production of superconducting magnets.

In addition to the steel alloy sector, the metal is often used to make parts for jet engines, as well as crankshafts, axles and gears. What’s more, vanadium redox batteries are currently generating excitement because they are reusable over semi-infinite cycles, and do not degrade for at least 20 years, allowing energy storage systems the ability to bank renewable energy.

However, these batteries are quite large compared to lithium-ion batteries, and are better suited for industrial or commercial use than for use in electric vehicles. That said, there are a number of companies around the world working on developing the technology for residential and smaller-scale use.

CRU Group analysts predict that vanadium redox batteries will drive demand for the metal amid growing demand for energy storage. On the supply side , the main challenge ahead for vanadium production could be finding more low-cost production to avoid future demand destruction.

How can investors get vanadium exposure?

Vanadium bullion is available from private individuals, but the metal is not publicly traded, and so most experts do not advise investing in physical vanadium. Instead, many investors interested in the vanadium industry choose to gain exposure to the market through vanadium-mining companies.

Largo Resources (TSX:LGO,NASDAQ:LGO) owns and operates the Maracas Menchen mine in Brazil, and has an annual vanadium output of between 11,000 and 12,000 tonnes.

The company supplies vanadium products for multiple applications and has developed vanadium redox battery systems for advanced renewable energy storage solutions.

Aside from Largo, few other publicly traded companies are currently mining vanadium. However, many companies are exploring for the metal or developing vanadium projects. Below are some examples listed on the TSX, TSXV or ASX.

  • Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) owns several exploration-stage vanadium projects in Western Australia, including its flagship Australian vanadium project on which it recently completed a bankable feasibility study.
  • Bushveld Minerals (LSE:BMN)purports to have one of the world’s largest high-grade primary vanadium resources. The company’s assets are all in South Africa and include three vanadium properites (Vametco, Brits and Mokopane) and two processing facilities (Vametco and Vanchem).
  • Energy Fuels (TSX:EFR,NYSEAMERICAN:UUUU) is primarily focused on uranium mining, but is also the only primary producer of vanadium in North America. The company produces both uranium and vanadium at its White Mesa mill in Utah.
  • Silver Elephant Mining (TSX:ELEF,OTCQX:SILEF) has a diverse mineral portfolio that includes the Gibellini vanadium project in Nevada. The company announced in mid-2021 its intention to spin out its vanadium asset into a subsidiary company called Nevada Vanadium Mining.
  • Strategic Resources (TSXV:SR) has two vanadium assets, including its flagship property, the past-producing Mustavaara vanadium-iron-titanium deposit.
  • Syrah Resources’ (ASX:SYR) main asset is the Mozambique-based Balama project. It primarily produces graphite, but the company is increasingly examining the vanadium potential the deposit includes. Syrah is also becoming more involved in the battery metals space, an area that uses both graphite and vanadium, as well lithium.
  • TNG (ASX:TNG,OTC Pink:TNGZF) is developing its Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project in Australia’s Northern Territory. According to the company, the JORC indicated resource for the Mount Peake project makes it one of the largest-known vanadium resources in Australia.
  • Western Uranium and Vanadium (CSE:WUC,OTCQX:WSTRF) is a near-term producer of uranium and vanadium with six properties in Western Colorado and Eastern Utah.

This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2014.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time news updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: Energy Fuels is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid-for content.

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