The term 'minor metals' is used to describe about 40 elemental metals that are normally produced as by-products and not traded on any major exchanges.
Minor metals generally include:
Although a diverse group, minor metals often share three common elements:
- They are not traded on any major exchanges.
- They are primarily mined and extracted as by-products or co-products of base metals or other minor metals.
- Their annual global production is relatively small (compared with base metals).
Lacking a firm definition, exactly what metals are classified as ‘minor’ is open for interpretation. Consequently, it is not surprising that the list of metals covered by the Minor Metal Trade Association (MMTA) has evolved significantly since 1973.
While initially only covering seven metals, including nickel, the MMTA today covers 49 metals (including the rare earth elements). Nickel, however, has long since been excluded.
Moreover, although molybdenum and cobalt futures began trading on the London Metal Exchange (LME) in 2010, both are generally still regarded as minor metals.