Goodbye, friends

By Siobhan Lismore-Scott
Published: Friday, 01 November 2019

Siobhan Lismore-Scott reflects on the 50-year history of the print edition of Industrial Minerals.

In 1967, two years before the very first standalone issue of Industrial Minerals was published, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ book 100 Years of Solitude was released. 

The premise of the text was not simple. Essentially, it tracked the lives of a family who repeatedly had children that they called the same name and who survived wars and famines and love and ruin. 

On another level it questioned the very concept of time. In this novel, time was not presented as linear. There was no start or end; rather, its passing was marked by similar events that happened to same-named individuals. Time was presented as cyclical. 

Macondo, the town created at the beginning of the novel, was a town made of mirrors born from dust and to this it would return. Reality, like time, was an imagined concept.

And what does this have to do with Industrial Minerals? Well, both nothing and everything. It is not only life in Macondo which is cyclical.

Markets, the economy, are all cyclical. One of the first lessons learned in economics is that trends have a habit of repeating themselves. Bubbles burst. Stock runs out. Freak weather happens. Prices go up and come down.

For 50 years Industrial Minerals has been reporting to you: the supplier, the buyer, the processor, the shipper, the trader. It has been the onlooker which sees most of the game and has always told it how it is. 

A series of editorial teams (who, unlike Marquez’ fictional characters have had many different names, several of which will be well-known to readers), have seen prices go up and crash down over 50 years.

We have seen the rise of unparalleled interest in a market which was once dormant and of interest only to its primary participants. 

We’ve reported on freight rates, regulation, end markets. Sat across from state ministers. Met artisan miners. Scrambled in and out of mine shafts and tramped across featureless wildernesses on the promise that mineral riches lay beneath our feet. 

We’ve discussed which slurry pipe is best suited for transporting waste; which by-product will determine the viability, or not, of a high-risk mining project; and speculated on whether evolving technology will create a new market for a niche and barely known mineral. 

We’ve put together events, infographics. Supplement reports, maps. We developed an App. We even had a TV channel for a while. Never let it be said that we did not bring industrial minerals news to you in ways as diverse as the collection of industries we serve.

And while this is the end of an era in one way, that work will continue, albeit in a different format.

This will be the last issue of Industrial Minerals magazine before it returns to be published within Metal Markets Magazine (formerly Metal Bulletin).

Online, however, subscribers will continue to find a breadth of knowledge. Fastmarkets will continue to produce supply and demand data, price trend analysis, uncover end use markets and bring you top producers' data as it is published. News will continue to be market-driven.

And for the last time…

In this issue, Rose Pengelly looks at the increasing burden of international sanctions on exporters and shippers of industrial minerals and how the commodities and insurance industries are struggling to police regulations laid down by governments (pp20-21).

For this month’s executive interview, Ross Davies speaks to Chris Douville, president of the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation (Ansac), the world’s largest soda ash exporter, about the future of a corporation recently deserted by one of its key members amid uncertain conditions for the global soda ash market (pp22-23).

In one of our regular looks at the fast-moving world of battery materials, Jon Stibbs considers how the EU is responding politically to surging local battery production capacity (p25) and Martim Facada discusses how the way that lithium is traded is evolving with end market needs (p26).

Also in this issue, William Clarke and Carrie Shi evaluate China’s magnesia market dilemma (pp30-34) and in a second feature this month, Clarke takes a sweeping look at the challenges facing the global titanium dioxide industry (pp36-38).

Finally, regular contributor Sunder Singh gives a flavor of the frustration felt in India’s mining industry about the repeated disappointments of government plans to reform the domestic minerals sector (pp39-42).

Siobhan Lismore-Scott
Acting Editor