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Rare Metal ETFs: the Positives and the Negatives

I’m still in Cape Town, but I got the news a couple of days ago from a Canadian source, that a major Canadian bank, quite active in mining finance, has publicly announced that it has agreed to undertake (but not underwrite, as far as I know) the raising of $25,000,000 for the purpose of capitalizing an ETF that will offer investment instruments for speculating on rare metals which the new ETF will hold in physical form as collateral for the base value of its instruments. I’m going to guess, for example, that a buyer of a share in the ETF will have a right to the physical delivery of the market value of a unit of a rare metal, at their agreed original contract price. In other words, I assume that the ETF share will be a futures contract.

Before I analyze this venture I can say that I believe that in the long term, $25 million of any rare metal will be worth many times that, so that in theory such physical metal delivery guaranteed collateralized instruments should be quite good investments.

I am however skeptical of such ventures because of events I have seen evolve in the last six months and in the last 50 years. Basically I’ve heard all of this before, many times. Oh, but of course “this time it’s going to be different,” right?

I’ve written up my thoughts on this subject in this month’s special edition of The Jack Lifton Report, which is available to subscribers. If you’re not yet a subscriber and would like a copy of the report – simply fill in your details on the form in the upper right of this Web page, and you’ll have it in no time.

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#1 Comment By William On February 6, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

Here is a discussion forum on Rare Metals ETFs

#2 Comment By Tek On February 7, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

An ETF in REEs has been a subject of discussion for some time. It would represent a more stable investment vehicle encouraging some who are more reluctant, due to the risky nature of investing in junior miners. However, I like the the potential risk/return in this space because currently there are only about 12 players, (with many more to come), all juniors, and all with relatively low share prices. Even a small investor can just about cover the whole field of micro caps with modest invetments in each company. In my opinion, the 12 or so who appear on the North American exchanges seem to represent the primary industry outside of China, excepting the non publically traded companies. An ETF might include the privately held companies , which could be an advantage, but I’m not sure about this.
There are investment companies like Pinetree Capital whose portfolio of investees looks much like the portfolio I would like to see in an ETF. Overall I should think that someone will offer an ETF and that could help validate a larger investment confidence for other institutional investors.

#3 Comment By JAY BIRGE On February 7, 2010 @ 11:31 pm

Jack – you make a good case for leaving the REE’s stored exactly as they are, where they are: an argument I would prefer for fossil energies as we develop and use ASAP, AMAP alternative energies – ie., the Energy Manhattan Project.

#4 Comment By Joris On March 10, 2010 @ 4:32 am

has the ETF now materialized? If not what companies would you advice investing in?

#5 Comment By Ted Lum On September 15, 2010 @ 10:57 am

Is there some ETFs in Rare Metals or Rare Earth Metals? Is so, any recommendations?