Vanadium is a strategic metal primarily used as a strengthening alloy to steel and titanium. It is the key strengthening agent in high tensile strength steel. Small amounts of vanadium alloy (often referred to as ferrovanadium) makes steel stronger, tougher and lighter.
Most vanadium produced is used in the steel industry as an alloy in different types of steel. The largest use of vanadium is in High Strength Low Alloy Steels (HSLA) for construction steel, concrete reinforcement bars and other high tensile strength steels.
New uses for HSLA in the automotive industry have driven demand for ferrovanadium. Large OEMs utilize ferrovanadium contained in High Strength Low Alloy steel in a shift to stronger, but lighter cars. In 1995, there was no advanced high strength steel used in automobiles but in 2015, it is expected that 50% of the steel used in automobiles will be high strength steel. Global automotive manufacturers have announced intentions to grow use of advanced high strength steel. For example, the body of the 2015 VW Golf uses 80% high strength steel to make the car lighter and improve fuel efficiency, a corporate imperative given the controversy with emissions regulators. Also, the 2015 Ford F-150 uses a new high strength steel frame that helps the truck tow up to 1,100 pounds more and haul up to 530 pounds more than its 2014 predecessor.
Aircraft usages currently account for a small percentage of the vanadium market but the titanium alloy Ti 6-4 is the fastest growing segment within aerospace (contains 6% Vanadium) and has a strong outlook for years to come.
Battery technology is rapidly emerging as a new use for vanadium, albeit a small segment today. The vanadium redox battery has been designed to meet growing need for efficient renewable energy storage. Strong demand in the US and internationally for renewable energy is expected to drive demand for vanadium. Next generation batteries like Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries offer long duration, greater power output and are a leading solution to the regulation of power generated by non-discretionary renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
BlackRock Metals will be the only integrated North American producer of ferrovanadium and our location, quality of inputs and modern low cost operation will make us an ideal supplier for the important North American and European markets.