Deer Horn Capital reports that recent market studies are forecasting steady growth in demand for tellurium over the next five years, while supplies may be declining due to changes in copper recovery and refining where most tellurium is produced. As a result, the key users of tellurium, especially manufacturers of CdTe thin-film solar panels, are likely to require more tellurium from primary deposits such as the Deer Horn Property where Deer Horn Capital is advancing a high-grade gold-silver-tellurium resource. Both the US Geological Survey (USGS) and First Solar have identified Deer Horn as one of the world’s epithermal tellurium properties.
Tellurium is extremely rare, making up approximately 0.0000001% of the earth’s crust. It’s three-times rarer than gold, comparable to the rarity of platinum and rarer than most “rare earth” metals. Tellurium is classified as a “critical metal” by the U.S. Department of Energy for its importance to clean energy. It is also considered an essential “green” metal for low-carbon applications.
Most refined tellurium is recovered as a byproduct from the electrorefining of copper. In a 2017 report, the USGS calculated that the world currently depends on copper mining for roughly 90% of its tellurium supply. However, as copper grades continue to decline, copper miners are turning to different recovery methods to exploit lower-grade ore. These processes largely bypass any recovery of tellurium.
“On a relative scale, there isn’t a lot of high-grade copper left for the supply of tellurium,” said Deer Horn president and CEO Tyrone Docherty. “As these higher-grade copper deposits wind down, production from lower-grade deposits, where tellurium is excluded, will dominate the industry. This will certainly impact tellurium output in the years ahead.”
News item from Deer Horn