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Titanium Will Redraw Geopolitical Borders and Spheres of Influence - Forever

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Apple's Watch Ultra is made from aerospace-grade titanium. Aerospace-grade is where TerraManta would like to begin this edition of The Full Story.

August 2022

In the TerraManta blog post titled Is The War in Ukraine About Critical Commodities, TerraManta discussed Ukraine's energy, metals, and mineral deposits with $12.4 trillion of these deposits under Russian control.

One of the most significant early applications of titanium was in the Lockheed SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ strategic reconnaissance aircraft, which was used extensively by the US spy agency CIA against the Soviet Union at the peak of the Cold War.

While being unaware, the Soviet Union supplied titanium for a reconnaissance aircraft which remained unchallenged while flying at (still classified) Mach N+ speed on the edge of Earth's stratosphere.

VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation: should be a household name

VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation based in Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia, is the world’s largest titanium producer. It supplies 30-35% of the titanium used by the aviation sector globally. Aerospace giants such as Boeing and Airbus are heavily dependent on Russian titanium.

According to the Air Current, VSMPO-AVISMA provides 35% of Boeing’s titanium, 65% of Airbus, and 100% of Embraer.

Titanium Supply Chain Vulnerability = National Security Concern

Shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Kevin Michaels, managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory, a supply-chain consulting firm, warned at a supplier conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin “could shut down the commercial aerospace business if he chose to do so.”

Kevin Michaels was - and remains - correct in his assessment.

Titanium is Finally on the Front Page

On January 28, 2023 - or to be more accurate 6 months later after TerraManta published, Newsweek published an article titled The Battle for Ukraine's Titanium.

The US Interior Department has classified titanium as one of the 35 mineral commodities vital to U.S. economic and national security. The US no longer holds titanium sponge in its National Defense Stockpile, and the last domestic producer of titanium sponge closed down in 2020.

Russia also depends on Ukraine's titanium exports

Russia has relatively low levels of titanium mineral reserves, and in 2021 Ukraine was actually its main source of titanium imports, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Only 7 countries produce titanium sponge

Ukraine is one of only seven nations producing titanium sponge, the basis for titanium metal. China and Russia—America's most prominent strategic rivals—are among this select group.

China produced more than 231,000 tons of titanium sponge last year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, making up 57 percent of global output. Next came Japan with 17 percent, and Russia with 13 percent. Kazakhstan produced almost 18,000 tons and Ukraine more than 4,000 tons.

While TerraManta always encourages the reader to make their own conclusion, the next conflict will require more titanium.

TerraManta is the only company which uses machine learning to anticipate market behavior and forecast commodity prices without human biases. This bias-free approach is our high conviction strategy.

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