Not all alkali metals are created equally. All of the alkali metals share similar properties: they are highly reactive metals under standard conditions and are thus never found in their elemental form in nature. The two alkali metals that are of particular value to investors are lithium, due to its high electrochemical potential; and potassium, because of its role in plant nutrition. In the commodity world, lithium is better known as lithium carbonate while potassium is better known as potash.
Everywhere you look these days, food is news. From increasing demand from a burgeoning Chinese middle class that has sent commodity prices soaring to a Tunisian fruit seller sparking a revolution it’s hard to go a day without hearing that the world food situation has entered dangerous territory. The food crisis has sent prices of potash, which replaces soil nutrients, soaring. A few years ago one would be hard pressed to find any junior potash exploration companies. Today, a number of projects are being advancing in Canada and abroad.
Lithium, one of the more unconventional commodity plays, is also one of the most challenging for investors to grasp. As Virginia Heffernan noted, “Lithium is one of the more difficult commodities to assess because economic viability depends so much on the deposit type and the ability to covert resources into a product that can be successfully marketed to end users.” This hasn’t held back junior exploration companies as a number have been quick to react to what they believe will be a battery of future demand.