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Charted: Commodities vs Equity Valuations (1970–2023)

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Charted: Commodities vs Equity Valuations

Charted: Commodities vs Equity Valuations (1970–2023)

In recent years, commodity prices have reached a 50-year low relative to overall equity markets (S&P 500). Historically, lows in the ratio of commodities to equities have corresponded with the beginning of new commodity supercycles.

The infographic above uses data from Incrementum AG and Crescat Capital LLC to show the relationship between commodities and U.S. equities over the last five decades.

What is a Commodity Supercycle?

A commodity supercycle occurs when prices of commodities rise above their long-term averages for long periods of time, even decades. Once the supply has adequately grown to meet demand, the cycle enters a downswing.

The last commodity supercycle started in 1996 and peaked in 2011, driven by raw material demand from rapid industrialization taking place in Brazil, India, Russia, and China.

Supercycles in Commodity Prices 1899-19321933-19611962-19951996-2016
Peak year1904194719782011
Peak of supercycle from long-term trend (%)10.214.119.533.5
Trough of supercycle from long-term trend (%)-12.9-10-38.123.7
Length of cycle from trough-to-trough (years)33293420
Upswing (years)5151716
Downswing (years)2814174

Source: Bank of Canada, IHS

While no two supercycles look the same, they all have three indicators in common: a surge in supply, a surge in demand, and a surge in price.

In general, commodity prices and equity valuations tend to have a low to negative correlation, making it rare to see the two moving in tandem in the same direction for any long period of time.

Commodity Prices and Equity Valuations

In line with the above notion, commodity prices and equity valuations have often been at odds with one another in past market cycles.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, for example, rising oil prices led to a significant decline in stock prices as higher energy costs hurt corporate profits. In contrast, during the first half of the 2000s, low oil prices were accompanied by a strong equity bull market that ended with the 2008 stock market crash.

The relationship, however, is not always straightforward and can be affected by various other factors, such as global economic growth, supply and demand, inflation, and other market events.

With the most recent commodity supercycle peaking in 2011, could the next big one be right around the corner?

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All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization

This infographic visualizes the 2.8 billion tonnes of metals mined in 2022.

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All the Metals We Mined in One Visualization

Metals are a big part of our daily lives, found in every building we enter and all devices we use.

Today, major industries that directly consume processed mineral materials contribute 14% of the United States economy.

The above infographic visualizes all 2.8 billion tonnes of metals mined in 2022 and highlights each metal’s largest end-use using data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

Iron Ore Dominance

Iron ore dominates the metals mining landscape, comprising 93% of the total mined. In 2022, 2.6 billion tonnes of iron ore were mined, containing about 1.6 billion tonnes of iron.

Metal/OreQuantity Mined in 2022 (tonnes)% of Total
Iron ore2,600,000,00093.3%
Industrial metals185,111,8356.6%
Technology and Precious Metals1,500,0080.05%
Total2,786,611,843100%

Percentages may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Iron ores are found in various geologic environments, such as igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary rocks, and can contain over 70% iron, with many falling in the 50-60% range.

Combined with other materials like coke and limestone, iron ore is primarily used in steel production. Today, almost all (98%) iron ore is dedicated to steelmaking.

The ore is typically mined in about 50 countries, but Australia, Brazil, China, and India are responsible for 75% of the production.

Because of its essential role in infrastructure development, iron ore is one of the most crucial materials underpinning urbanization and economic growth.

Industrial Metals

Industrial metals occupy the second position on our list, constituting 6.6% of all metals mined in 2022. These metals, including copper, aluminum, lead, and zinc, are employed in construction and industrial applications.

Aluminum constituted nearly 40% of industrial metal production in 2022. China was responsible for 56% of all aluminum produced.

Industrial Metals2022 Mine Production (tonnes)% of Total
Aluminum69,000,00037.3%
Chromium41,000,00022.1%
Copper22,000,00011.9%
Manganese20,000,00010.8%
Zinc13,000,0007.0%
Titanium (mineral concentrates)9,500,0005.1%
Lead4,500,0002.4%
Nickel3,300,0001.8%
Zirconium Minerals (Zircon)1,400,0000.8%
Magnesium1,000,0000.5%
Strontium340,0000.2%
Uranium49,3550.03%
Bismuth20,0000.01%
Mercury2,2000.00%
Beryllium2800.00%
Total185,111,835100%

In the second position is chromium, which plays a primary role in rendering stainless steel corrosion-resistant. South Africa led chromium production, accounting for 44% of the total mined last year.

Technology and Precious Metals

Despite representing less than 1% of all the metals mined, technology metals have been on the news over the last few years as countries and companies seek these materials to reduce carbon emissions and improve productivity.

Technology and Precious Metals2022 Mine Production (tonnes)% of Total
Tin310,00020.7%
Rare Earth Oxides300,00020.0%
Molybdenum250,00016.7%
Cobalt190,00012.7%
Lithium130,0008.7%
Vanadium100,0006.7%
Tungsten84,0005.6%
Niobium79,0005.3%
Silver26,0001.7%
Cadmium24,0001.6%
Gold3,1000.2%
Tantalum2,0000.1%
Indium9000.1%
Gallium5500.04%
Platinum Group Metals4000.03%
Rhenium580.004%
Total1,500,008100%

They include lithium and cobalt, used in electric vehicles and battery storage, and rare earths, used in magnets, metal alloys, and electronics. Many of them are considered critical for countries’ security due to their role in clean energy technologies and dependency on other nations to supply domestic demand.

However, despite increasing interest in these metals, they are still behind precious metals such as gold and silver regarding market size.

The gold market, for example, reached $196 billion in 2022, compared to $10.6 billion for the rare earths market.

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Visualizing Mining’s Footprint in British Columbia

Mining represents 7% of British Columbia’s GDP despite only accounting for 0.04% of the land use.

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Mining Footprint in British Columbia

Visualizing Mining’s Footprint in British Columbia

British Columbia is considered a global leader in the development of socially and environmentally responsible resources.

An estimated 54% of the province’s total land is protected, making it one of the world’s greenest mining hubs.

This graphic by the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) details mining’s footprint in the province.

A Tier 1 Jurisdiction for Mining

British Columbia covers almost 95 million hectares (234 million acres), more than any European country except Russia, and more than any U.S. state except Alaska.

As the largest mining province in Canada, BC registered $18 billion in revenue from the industry in 2022.

British Columbia stands as Canada’s sole producer of molybdenum, which finds applications in metallurgy and chemistry. Additionally, B.C. is the country’s leader producer of copper and steelmaking coal, besides gold and silver.

B.C. mined material breakdown

At the heart of British Columbia’s mining industry lies the Golden Triangle, one of the hottest mineral exploration districts in the world.

More than 150 mines have operated in the area since prospectors first arrived at the end of the 19th century. The region alone is endowed with minerals worth more than $800 billion.

How Green is B.C. Mining

Mining represents 7% of the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), despite only accounting for 0.04% of the land use. In comparison, farmland demands 3% of the land, bringing $2.1 billion (0.8%) per year.

Land Use in B.C.Revenue (2022, CAD $)
Mining 0.04%$18.0 billion
Oil & Gas 0.4%$9.5 billion
Infrastructure1%$25.0 billion
Farmland3%$2.1 billion
Forest62%$13.3 billion

Mining operations are also supported by a stable, transparent, and effective policy environment. The province ranked as the world’s least risky for mining in 2017 and 2018.

In addition, mineral exploration has received ample support from local Indigenous communities. Today, mining accounts for over two-thirds of all indigenous people employed in the extractives sector.

According to the International Energy Agency, up to six times more minerals and metals will be needed by 2040 to accelerate the energy transition.

In this scenario, British Columbia is well positioned to support the transition to a low-carbon future and make a significant contribution to climate action.

The BCRMA is a strategic partnership between indigenous groups, industry, and government representatives that aims to promote B.C.’s mining opportunities internationally.

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