Apr 16, 2020 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) -- The next quantum leap in technology is 5G, and America's lack of one critical metal threatens its supremacy.
New 5G cellular wireless technology will transfer data and the correct time faster than anything we've seen before. And if you didn't think that the keeping of accurate time was that important a goal for global superpowers - think again.
5G will not just revolutionize our connectivity and crown the next superpower, but it will forever change time, with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) being overtaken by something eerily accurate.
Cesium is the critical element in all of this, and it means the difference between real-time responsiveness and 5G failure.
Yet, China controls 100% of its existing supply, with only one junior Canadian miner - Power Metals /zigman2/quotes/208590941/delayed CA:PWM 0.00% /zigman2/quotes/204362702/composite PWRMF -0.65% - emerging with the potential to develop a supply of this critical mineral outside of China's influence.
Time Is Money
5G isn't simply a step up from 4G technology. We're not talking about something in line with the release of the next version of the iPhone. This is a major leap forward. It's quantum in nature.
This new technology spells world tech domination for a reason: It's not just about your Apple Watch connection. It's about continuous, real-time connection for every device on the planet. That also means every digital healthcare device under the sun, from surgical bandages to pacemakers. It will revolutionize healthcare, and just about everything else.
Right now, the time that elapses between a device asking for and receiving information is about 50 microseconds. 5G turns that into one microsecond or less. It's instant feedback.
But it will also generate trillions of dollars in new products along the way.
That's a lot of pressure riding on cesium, which was only added to the United States' critical minerals list in 2018.
Cesium is "the most electropositive of all stable elements in the periodic table", and the heaviest of the stable metals. Cesium is "extremely pyrophoric, ignites spontaneously when in contact with air, and explodes violently in water or ice at any temperature above -116 � C", according to the German Institute for Strategic Metals (ISE).
It's critical not only to 5G, but to the healthcare industry, which uses cesium compounds in medical imaging, cancer therapy, positron emission tomography (PET), and in catalyst promoters, glass amplifiers, photoelectric cell components, crystals in scintillation counters and getters in vacuum tubes. It's also vital to the oil and gas industry, which uses cesium formate brines in drilling fluids to prevent blow-outs in high-temperature, over-pressurized wells.
The "cesium standard" is also the key to time: It's the standard by which the accurate commercially available atomic clocks measure time, and it's vital for the data transmission infrastructure of mobile networks, GPS and the internet.
But the bulk of new critical metals supply will be in risky investment venues, and what's already out there is controlled by China.
Worldwide, only three known pegmatite mines can produce cesium: Manitoba's Tanco mine, Zimbabwe's Bitika mine and Australia's Sinclair mine. China controls them all, beyond its own borders. Tanco and Bitiki are no longer producing, but Sinomine Resources Group controls all their cesium ore stockpiles.
Canada is the only hope for North American production right now, and Power Metals happens to be sitting on prime pegmatites discovered in August 2018 at its West Joe Dyke play, where it intersected high-grade cesium mineralization in six drill holes while it was looking for lithium.
Power Metals owns 100% of three of the world's small number of new potential cesium plays (West Joe, Tot Lake and Marko).
And Dr. Julie Selway, a key geologist for the Ontario Geological Survey during the tantalum boom of the early 2000s, and now VP of exploration for Power Metals, says the three properties the company is drilling are likely to have similar finds as the strategically important Sinclair mine in Australia.
"They are shipping their resource, which they say is higher than 10% cesium-oxide, and ours have some assays that are between 12% and 14% of cesium-oxide," Selway--one of the world's most renowned experts on pegmatites--told Oilprice.com.
Power Metals has intersected cesium (Cs) mineralization in 6 drill holes on West Joe Dyke, with "exceptionally high-grade" Li and Ta intervals. They also found Cs mineralization in drill core samples in the first new dyke below Main Dyke, as well as in the drill core in Northeast Dyke.
On February 20th, Power Metals announced its exploration plans and will begin stripping and channel sampling on West Joe Dyke in Q2 of this year already. That's when they'll expose, sample and assay the cesium mineralization on surface outcrops to locate more cesium-bearing pegmatite dykes nearby.
That means that Canada could be the difference between cesium and none for North America. It means cesium could remove another looming threat to Washington's technological domination: critical choke points.