Rachel’s note: Right now, we’re seeing some of the largest tech trends in the world turn to one “outdated” industry.
Modern tech can’t live without it. But the U.S. is raising alarm bells about its supply…
President Trump just declared a state of emergency in this area. And Silicon Valley giants are desperate to revive it.
Luckily, our friend Chris Lowe recently caught up with Casey Research’s in-house geologist, Dave Forest. He’ll reveal why Big Tech is dependent on this surprising sector… and how you can profit from its renaissance…
Chris Lowe: Hello, Chris Lowe here.
Today, we’re going to be taking a deep dive into one of the big themes we’re tracking for you – the boom in tech metals.
If you’ve been with us for some time, you’ll know what tech metals are.
But if you’re just joining us, these are the metals that are needed for the rechargeable batteries that go into electric vehicles like Teslas.
And these metals, and these batteries, are also key components of the 5G rollout. That’s because they’re needed to power the 5G base stations.
This is a huge shift in how we fuel our civilization and our economy.
And there’s no better man to talk us through the implications than Dave Forest. Dave is a trained geologist. He has made it his life’s work to find and extract natural resources from the ground.
Over more than two decades, he has put boots on the ground in countries on all the world’s populated continents… hunting for deposits of everything from copper, to gold, to platinum, to nickel, to cobalt, and even natural gas.
Dave has developed the sixth-largest platinum-producing district in the world. He has also discovered more than a billion pounds of copper in Asia and South America.
And he was the first natural resource explorer the government of Myanmar – the country formerly known as Burma – licensed to explore for natural resources there.
Hey Dave, how are you?
Dave Forest: Hey, Chris. Good, how are you?
Chris: I’m pretty good. It’s good to talk to you. We talked quite recently, Dave, about lithium and tech metals. And it’s still a really fast-developing story. I want to get to that in a bit, But just before we do, could you maybe fill in readers who are new about who you are, and what you focus on in your letters?
Dave: So my focus throughout my career, and with Casey Research, has been in resource stocks. And it’s kind of an “old-world” industry that a lot of people don’t consider in their investment portfolio.
The premise behind looking at these, and what I built my career on, is basically that these are tiny little stocks that can deliver out-sized gains, very out-sized gains. We’re talking not just hundreds of percent, but thousands of percent. Or in some cases, even tens of thousands of percent.
When you’re talking about an industry like mining exploration, mineral exploration, it’s one of the only businesses I know where you can literally start with a piece of ground in a desert somewhere that you can acquire for $1,000 or $5,000 bucks, and with a little bit of ingenuity and hard work, turn it into something that’s worth a billion dollars.
We have several cases of that happening over the last several years. So obviously, with those kinds of returns, this is a sector where you can put a small percentage of your portfolio in and have a significant impact on your overall wealth.
So that’s my mission. It’s finding people those kinds of really big upside gains.
Chris: And Dave, right now one of your big focuses is on these tech metals. And in particular, lithium is one of them. You’ve had some big gains on your lithium play. So, what’s going on with the lithium mining business now? Why is it a big focus of yours in your letters?
Dave: It’s a really interesting confluence of Old World and New World.
Lots of people, when they think of mining, they think, “Oh, it’s an old business. It’s outdated. Who does that anymore?”
But actually, we’re seeing some of the largest tech trends in the world converge with mining now.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been talking a lot about mining. That’s because a lot of these metals are critical to Tesla’s business in manufacturing batteries and electric vehicles.
Things like copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt… all these metals are important for them. They can’t make the vehicles without them.
And at the same time, they’re struggling to find supplies of these metals. In some cases, they’re only produced in a few countries around the world.
So, Tesla has recently started investing. Since the last time we talked, Tesla has made one investment in a mining project in the U.S. And it’s rumored to be considering a few more.
That just lit a fire under these stocks. When it was announced that a high-profile guy like Elon Musk, and a high-profile company like Tesla, decided to invest in one lithium project in the U.S., that stock went from $6 to over $50 in a couple of days.
You’re getting a massive rush of attention in mining stocks because of this tie-in to tech. Every investor is excited about tech.
I think we’re on the verge of seeing a lot more of that kind of activity in the mining sector.
Chris: I know President Trump has been making noise about this, too. And he’s made some national mandates about strategic metals.
Maybe can you explain what’s going on there? It’s obviously reached the highest level of power in the country.
Dave: There’s been a recognition in the last few years that the U.S. is really behind in terms of securing domestic supplies of a lot of these metals.
And we’re not just talking about electric vehicle applications. Some of these metals are critical to things like defense. Rare earth metals go into cruise missiles and bombers, for example.
And with a lot of these metals, not only does the U.S. not have domestic supply… it actually imports the majority of them from places like China.
That’s been raising alarms. Not just with President Trump, but on a bipartisan basis. There have been Democratic and Republican movements in both Congress and the Senate that have looked at how to increase U.S. production of rare earth metals.
The biggest thing that happened recently is that President Trump signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency – this is exactly the language he used – in the U.S. regarding the supply of critical metals.
It basically said, “It is a state of emergency that we’re relying on places like China to get metals that are critical to our defense, and critical to our industry.”
So they’ve ordered a variety of government agencies to do everything they can, as quickly as possible – within 30 days, in some cases – to advance U.S. mining projects.
At the same time that you’ve got this rising wave of investor interest because of Tesla, there’s this massive push coming from the government.
That is probably going to take the form of financial aid and help with permits, and generally raising the profile of the mining industry.
I think all those things are going to be good for mining stocks.
Chris: Are they the same things, Dave? I’ve heard of rare earth metals and then tech metals. But are the rare earths different because they’re not involved in the batteries? Do you categorize them differently?
Dave: They are actually involved in the production of electric vehicles as well.
The primary use of rare earth metals is in making very high-strength magnets. Those magnets have a variety of defense applications. But they’re also used in electric vehicle motors.
And they’re used in things like 5G phones. So they have a wide range of tech applications.
They’re one of the things that modern tech can’t live without.
Tech is changing so fast. We’ve seen the rise of things like 5G. You have a whole new set of inputs of metals that are needed to drive this technology.
That’s why everybody suddenly said, “Wait a minute, there’s something like neodymium, a rare earth metal, that’s critical to building out all of our infrastructure. And we don’t have any. There’s not a single bit of it being produced in the U.S.”
That’s what raised the alarms and really got this ball rolling.
Chris: I’d say the trade war has obviously played into that, too.
I can see that America is going to be a lot more concerned about having its own supply. And there’s more antagonism with China than there would have been 10 or 20 years ago. Back then, it was assumed that there’d be a closer link.
Dave: Exactly. These things are happening in tandem.
There’s the recognition that these metals are critical. And at the same time, you have tensions with China. There’s tension in a lot of different parts of the world. Trade has been very rocky in many places.
And there are also places where the U.S. doesn’t have direct tension. But in a lot of cases, it’s competing with China for supply of these metals.
In countries in Africa that produce cobalt – which is another big electric vehicle battery metal – you have Chinese companies investing and looking to take that supply of metal back to China.
So even though there’s no direct trade tension there, the U.S. is competing with other people who want the metal, too.
Everybody’s saying, “We need our own domestic supplies.” And it’s going to be really interesting. It’s reopening a whole new industry that we haven’t seen in the U.S. for probably 40 or 50 years.
Wisconsin just released its new mining rules. That’s a state that hasn’t had a new mine in decades. Maine… all these places… we’re seeing a mining renaissance in the U.S.
Chris: And how is that changing the industry? Because, Dave, you don’t just write a newsletter about this. You’re actually involved on the industry side, as well.
What have you seen happen in the industry in response to the changing demand drivers for these metals? Presumably, demand has ramped up an awful lot.
Dave: The activity has certainly increased. There are a lot more companies looking for these metals. That’s a function of there being more investment money willing to go into these things.
Five years ago, the average hedge fund manager would not have looked at mining at all.
And today, because you have guys like Elon Musk talking at the Tesla annual shareholder meeting about nickel, there are a lot of hedge fund managers – people who typically focus on tech – who are saying, “Wait a minute. This is a sector that we should probably look at.”
You’re seeing a large influx of capital into these sectors. And that’s spurring a lot of new mining activity… creation of new companies… new projects… and a lot of big investment opportunities. Particularly in the U.S.
Chris: We’ll leave things there for now, Dave. Thanks for talking with me today.
Dave: Of course. Thanks, Chris.