Tellurium Prices Explained
Generally, tellurium prices come after negative and some positive factors.
The primary factors that strengthen the price of tellurium are mainly centered around the demand for the metal from different sectors and industries.
Due to its rarity and byproduct nature, the supply of tellurium can be influenced by fluctuations in the mining and refining of the primary metals from which it is extracted.
Its price fluctuates due to several factors:
Why are tellurium prices fluctuating?
1. Supply and Demand
Similar to most commodities, the price of tellurium is subject to shifts based on the principles of supply and demand.
A surge in demand for products dependent on this metal typically results in a tellurium price increase.
Conversely, a decline in demand or the discovery of new sources of supply can lead to a price decrease.
2. Industrial Use
Tellurium is used in various industrial applications, including alloys, solar cells, thermoelectric materials, and optical disks.
Fluctuations in industrial demand can impact its market price. For instance, growth in demand for solar panels leads to tellurium price hikes.
3. Production Costs
The price of tellurium is impacted by the expenses associated with its extraction, refining, and processing.
Additionally, variations in energy expenses, labor costs, or advancements in mining and production technologies can alter the overall production costs, consequently affecting the price of tellurium.
4. Currency Fluctuation
The value of the currency in which tellurium is traded can impact its price.
Changes in exchange rates influence the expenses related to importing or exporting tellurium, thus impacting its price in various markets.
Which variables impact the price of tellurium?
- Supply and Demand
- Industrial Use
- Production Costs
- Currency Fluctuation
- Technological Advancement
- Geopolitical Factors
Where does tellurium come from?
Tellurium comes from the Latin word tellus, which means fruit of the earth. It was discovered by Muller von Reichenstein in 1782.
It is frequently found alongside ores, especially those containing copper, gold, and silver.
Additionally, it is typically extracted from copper refined by an electrolytic process, which is a cost-effective technique applied to high-grade copper ores.
Due to its shortage, there is limited knowledge about the typical environmental levels of tellurium and its potential toxic effects on both humans and ecosystems.
Here are the primary sources of tellurium:
1. Copper Ores – Copper deposits, especially those that contain copper sulfides, often have associated tellurium.
Tellurium can be found in copper ores as compounds like tellurides.
2. Lead and Zinc Ores – Some lead and zinc ores also contain tellurium. It can be extracted as a byproduct during the processing of lead and zinc ores.
3. Gold and Silver Ores – Tellurium is commonly associated with gold and silver ores in the form of tellurides such as calaverite, sylvanite, and petzite. Thus, it’s often a byproduct of gold and silver mining.
4. Cadmium Residues – Some tellurium is obtained from the processing of cadmium residues.
5. Coal and Oil – Tellurium is present in small quantities in coal and petroleum products.
It can be extracted from the flue dust generated during the processing of coal.
6. Selenium Refining – Tellurium is also produced as a byproduct during the refining of selenium.
7. Processing of Copper Refining Slimes – Tellurium can be obtained from the residues generated during the electrolytic refining of copper.
8. Sulfide Ores – Certain sulfide ores, such as those of nickel and cobalt, can contain trace amounts of tellurium.
What are the uses of tellurium?
Tellurium is a versatile element with various industry uses.
Given its scarcity in the environment, encountering this element is highly uncommon for the average person. However, inhaling it can lead to severe health issues such as drowsiness, a metallic taste, headaches, and dry mouth.
Here are some key applications of tellurium:
1. Solar Cells – Tellurium plays a critical role in manufacturing thin-film solar cells.
Solar cells based on cadmium telluride are both highly efficient and cost-effective, establishing them as a significant technology for generating renewable energy.
2. Thermoelectric Materials – Tellurium-based alloys such as bismuth telluride are used in thermoelectric devices.
These substances have the capability to transform heat into electrical energy and are employed in various applications such as thermoelectric generators and cooling mechanisms.
3. Semiconductor Industry – Tellurium is used in the production of semiconductors, especially as a dope in certain types of semiconductors, enhancing their electrical conductivity and other properties.
4. Cadmium Telluride Detectors – It is utilized in radiation detectors, especially those used in X-ray and gamma-ray detection. Cadmium telluride is a common material used in these detectors.
5. Rubber and Plastics – Minor quantities of tellurium serve as vulcanization agents in the production of rubber and plastics.
6. Fiber Optics – Tellurium dioxide is used in the production of optical glass fibers.
These fibers are essential for telecommunications and the high-speed transmission of internet data.
What is the future price of tellurium?
The future of the rare element looks promising largely due to the important role it plays in renewable energy, especially in the production of semiconductors and solar cells.
Due to the relative rarity and wide applications of tellurium, the commodity enjoys consumption by investors and commercial industries alike.
Overall, market research firms predicted elevated tellurium prices at $500 per metric ton in 2030.