Sunday, April 26, 2015

Iron Ore Revival Puts Local Miners Back in the Black

Iron Ore Revival Puts Local Miners Back in the Black

At least least four Australian miners are cash-generative at current iron ore prices, thanks to a 23 per cent rise in the bulk commodity price over the past three weeks.

Another 5 per cent rally in the iron ore price late on Friday night capped a rare good week for the local industry, and pushed the benchmark price to $US57.81.

While BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have easily remained profitable during the recent slump in iron ore prices, it is likely that few other local iron ore exporters were generating cash when the price hit $US47.08 on April 2.

But a weekly gain of 13 per cent means the iron ore price is now at six-week highs, and is believed to be above the "break-even" price for the world's fourth biggest producer, Fortescue Metals Group.

The estimation of break-even prices is fraught given the constantly changing factors involved, but Fortescue is believed to need iron ore prices to be about $US50 per tonne to cover its cost of production, royalties, maintenance spending and its debt obligations.

Fortescue mines at two locations in the Pilbara, with its newer Solomon hub the cheaper operation, while the company's original Chichester precinct is estimated by Deutsche to lose money at benchmark iron ore prices below $US50 per tonne.

The miner has already outlined plans to reduce its costs even further in the 2016 financial year, with a dramatic reduction in the amount of waste ore moved at the Chichester precinct set to drag break-even costs below $US45 per tonne.

The plan, in concert with last week's debt refinancing which pushed the company's next debt repayment back to 2019, should help Fortescue survive the lowest point for iron ore prices, which analysts at Deutsche and Credit Suisse expect to come in between the 2015 and 2017 calendar years.

But Deutsche analyst Paul Young recently opined that Fortescue's revised working plan in the Chichesters is not sustainable longer term, and is likely to be a viable approach for less than two years.

"The change in mine plan at the Chichesters is likely net present value destructive as it will likely shorten mine life and impact product quality," he said in a recent note.

The junior miner that relies on Fortescue to rail, ship and market its product to customers, BC Iron, is also likely to be profitable at the recently improved iron ore price.

According to BC's improved performance during the month of March, UBS believes the miner can be generating cash so long as the benchmark iron ore price is $US55 per tonne or higher.

Those close to break-even around these prices are believed to include Mt Gibson Iron, whose cost position has ironically improved since a wall failure at its Koolan Island mine, and US miner Cliffs Natural Resources, whose Koolyanobbing operation exports through the South Coast of WA.

US miner Cliffs Natural Resources will update investors on Wednesday morning Australian time when it publishes its March quarter results.

Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill project is not expected to start exporting until August or September, and is believed to have a break-even price between $US41 and $US51 per tonne.

Those needing a further improvement in prices include Arrium Limited and Atlas Iron, which ceased operating its mines just over two weeks ago.

While last week's improvement in iron ore prices has injected some hope into the local sector, the rising commodity price has come with some trade-offs.

The Australian dollar, which hurts local miners when it is high, has risen 3 per cent to US78.15¢ over the past two weeks.

Oil prices also appear to have found their bottom, prompting a slight rise in prices for some "bunker fuels", which are consumed by ships that carry commodities like iron ore.

Local miners will be hoping those factors don't continue rising and blunt the impact of improved iron ore prices.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hammerhead Shark Half Ounce Silver Bullion Coin


Hammerhead Shark Silver Half Ounce Bullion Coin – Brand new from the Perth Mint
The hammerhead shark is one of the most recognizable creatures on the planet, and the largest of the species, the great hammerhead shark, is now immortalized in Silver. The Perth Mint has introduced the second release in their Shark Series celebrating this unique and unmistakable hunter.
Each of these Beautiful Uncirculated (BU) coins contains 1/2 oz of .999 fine Silver and exhibits a beautiful representation of the  strong great hammerhead shark swimming through the water. The coin displays the Silver weight and  purity, providing assurance of the high quality of each coin.
Since opening in 1899, the Perth Mint has produced and refined large quantities of Gold, Silver and other Precious Metals.
Today, the Perth Mint is highly involved in producing a wide array of items for collectors and investors.  They beautifully combine unique collectible designs with quality bullion value
Coin Highlights:
  • Contains 1/2 oz of .999 fine Silver.
  • Multiples of 25 come in a tube. 500 coins will come in “Monster” boxes. Individual coins come in a plastic flip.
  • Second release in the APMEX exclusive® Perth Mint Shark Series.
  • Obverse: The Ian Rank-Broadley likeness of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the monetary denomination.
  • Reverse: Features a great hammerhead shark, surrounded by the name, weight and purity, along with the Perth Mint’s “P” mintmark.
1/2oz Hammerhead Shark Silver Bullion Coin

Keywords: silver, australia silver, hammerhead shark silver coin, shark coin, shark silver coin, australia silver

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rio Tinto Goes Full Ore Ahead

Rio Tinto has revealed it shipped 72.5 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara mines during the three months to March



CYCLONE season and a train derailment have slowed Rio Tinto’s iron ore business but the mining titan’s expansion plans remain firmly in place.

The Anglo-Australian miner has revealed it shipped 72.5 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara mines during the three months to March.

The result, revealed in a production update on Tuesday, was 12 per cent lower than the previous quarter but 9 per cent higher than the same period a year earlier.

Rio produced 74.7 million tonnes of iron ore for the March quarter with the difference going into stockpiles.

Production was down 6 per cent on the previous quarter but up 12 per cent year-on-year.

The result missed market expectations but analysts were unfazed as Rio maintained its full-year production forecast at a record 350 million tonnes and said it would draw down on inventories to maximise cash flow throughout the year.

Rio said its operations had been impacted by tropical ­cyclone Olwyn, which battered the West Australian coast last month, and a train derailment that temporarily blocked ­access to Dampier port.

Smaller competitors such as Fortescue have been deeply critical of Rio and rival BHP Billiton for continuing to bring on new supply as the price of the key steelmaking ingredient tumbles.

Chief executive Sam Walsh said Rio’s push to milk as many low-cost tonnes from its iron ore business as possible was in the best interests of shareholders over the long term.

“By making best use of our high-quality assets, low cost base, and operating and commercial capability our aim is to protect our margins in the face of declining prices and maximise returns for shareholders throughout the cycle,” he said.

The price of iron ore rose 1.3 per cent to $US51.57 a tonne early on Tuesday after hitting a decade low of $US47.08 a tonne in early April.

Rio produced 144,000 tonnes of copper during the March quarter — a 9 per cent drop on the same time a year earlier due to mining lower grades.

Rio shares closed up 1.5 per cent on Tuesday at $55.50



Monday, April 20, 2015

Privateer Elemetal 2oz Silver Round Ultra High Relief







Each Elemetal Privateer Round consists of two ounces of .999 fine silver, and is manufactured in an IRA approved facility ensuring the metal purity and production quality.

The Elemetal Mint is a collaborative effort between three of the most prominent names in the 



Precious Metals industry: Ohio Precious Metals (OPM), NTR Metals, and Provident Metals. The goal of this collaboration is to offer high quality, investment grade bullion at a price that is accessible to every investor.

Each partner in the Elemetal Mint offers unique attributes and assets that accommodate this goal. OPM, an LBMA certified mint, has a legacy of producing high quality Precious Metal Bullion that meets standards required for global institutional trades. 



NTR Metals offers a production capacity that allows the Elemetal Mint to produce bullion as demand requires. Provident Metals leverages advanced fulfillment technology and processes to ensure that bullion is offered at the lowest possible price, and delivered in a timely manner.

The obverse of the ultra high relief Elemetal 2oz Privateer Silver Round carries the inscription “NO PREY NO PAY”, which is a piratical term meaning that unless a raid was successful at acquiring valuable commodities, the privateers would not receive a commission. 

Likewise, if contemporary investors are unwilling to invest in Silver Bullion, they will miss the security and value that only precious metals offer.

The obverse of the Elemetal Privateer Round also features a skull over a ship’s wheel, reminiscent of the Jolly Roger, and the inscription "2OZ FINE SILVER .999".

The reverse of this 2oz silver round features the stern of a pirate ship, the ship drifting through rough seawaters. High waves roar across the design as the ship’s sails flutter in the wind. The moon peaks out from the clouds on the right of the image.

The Elemetal 2oz Ultra High Relief Privateer Silver Round is a beautiful addition to Provident Metals’ offerings of Privately Minted Bullion. Each of these 2oz Silver Rounds is IRA approved and will ship in New Condition. Individual rounds ship in poly bags, and quantities of 10 or more ship in plastic tubes.

Expand your treasure chest with an Elemetal 2oz Privateer Silver Round

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blue Tongue Lizard 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin – Australia’s Remarkable Reptiles 2015


PROOF QUALITY 99.9% PURE SILVER

The coin is struck by The Perth Mint from 1oz of 99.9% silver in proof quality.

STUNNING COLOURED REVERSE DESIGN

The coin’s reverse portrays a coloured Blue Tongue Lizard displaying its tongue, bordered by a montage of exotic reptile skin patterns. The design also incorporates the inscription BLUE TONGUE LIZARD.
blue-tongue-lizard-2015-1oz-silver-proof-coin-australias-remarkable-reptiles-2015-case

LIMITED MINTAGE

No more than 5,000 Australia’s Remarkable Reptiles – Blue Tongue Lizard 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coins will be available for sale worldwide.

TUVALU LEGAL TENDER

Issued as legal tender under the authority of the Government of Tuvalu, the obverse of the coin depicts the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the monetary denomination and the 2015 year-date.

PRESENTATION CASE AND NUMBERED CERTIFICATE

The coin is housed in a wooden presentation case and custom designed shipper, and is accompanied by a numbered Certificate of Authenticity
blue-tongue-lizard-2015-1oz-silver-proof-coin-australias-remarkable-reptiles-2015-box
Australia’s Remarkable Reptiles – Blue Tongue Lizard 2015 1oz Silver Proof Coin at The Perth Mint, featuring:
  • Proof Quality 99.9% Pure Silver
  • Stunning Reverse Coloured Design
  • Limited Mintage – 5,000
  • Tuvalu Legal Tender
  • Presentation Case and Numbered Certificate
  • Third Coin Release in Series
The Blue Tongue Lizard is native to Australia and is recognised by its bright blue tongue and brownish grey scales. They are not poisonous and can often be found living peacefully in the same backyard for years, conveniently consuming slugs and snails and sunning themselves by the backdoor, or out under the clothesline.
These slow-moving creatures are found in just about every part of Australia: on the coastal plains; in the mountains; in rainforest; deserts and at least one species is found in every Australian capital city.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS:
Silver Content (Troy oz)1
Monetary Denomination (TVD)1
Fineness (% purity)99.9
Minimum Gross Weight (g)31.135
Maximum Diameter (mm)40.60
Maximum Thickness (mm)4.00
Maximum Mintage5,000

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Atlas Iron Suspends Itself From Share Trade Amid Plunging Prices


Atlas Iron is stumbling in the face of the slumping ore price, suspending itself from the local share market as it tries to map out a future.

Iron ore slumped over the weekend to a fresh low of $US46.70 a tonne on a key Chinese spot market.
Atlas said it has been surprised by the "extent and the pace of the decline in the iron ore price" which it says has fallen 24 per cent since it released its half-year accounts in February.

"The voluntary suspension is requested pending the outcome of an extensive review of the company's operations, financial outlook, asset sale opportunities and capital structure," the company said in a statement to shareholders.

The company said it has already commenced discussions with a number of its stakeholders in relation to various initiatives it is undertaking to reduce costs and preserve value.

Bulk transporter McAleese Group is one of those stakeholders, it has a major iron ore haulage contract with Atlas worth around $250 million and not due to expire until 2017.

McAleese has issued a statement to shareholders saying it will continue to work with Atlas as a priority to "achieve sustainable solutions for both parties."

Atlas shares, which last traded at 12 cents, will remain suspended until the company makes an announcement at the end of the review, which should be in the next fortnight.

The share price has lost 88 per cent in the last 12 months.

Financial advisory and asset management firm Lazard is assisting Atlas with the review.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

South32 – Major in the Making - BHP Billiton



I am becoming more known these days for my gripes than my enthusiasms. A long held complaint (extant at least 7 years) has been at the denuding of the middle ranks of miners. If one looks at the mining market from a Darwinian perspective (and that is particularly apt in these days of survival of the fittest) the pyramid of life (and we use that word under advisement in the mining space) is extremely out of kilter. We have a handful of majors and vast plethora of juniors and a mid-tier that is severely underpopulated. 



This is not a natural situation. If one wonders why mining M&A is in such a torpor one not look much further than the lack of mid-tier companies for majors to munch upon. Just as a T-Rex would not have bothered chasing a squirrel (if they had even existed conterminously) thus mining majors cannot be bothered snuffling in the undergrowth of Vancouver or Perth to look for transactions that are canapés rather than main courses.

However, if we look at majors we have two ways in which they are created. One is by an existing historic major (BHP, Anglo-American, RTZ, Freeport-McMoran) devouring other smaller majors of mid-tier companies or by mid-tier companies bulking up through mergers with like-sized entities to catapult themselves into the top tier. 

Good examples of this are Barrick which went over decades, through a series of mergers from being nothing special to being a major (and still nothing special). Goldcorp, through its acquisitions of Glamis Gold and Wheaton River, is a better example of 1+1+1 equaling more than the sum of the parts. The mid-tier during the last decade and a half was not “restocked with names” because of the failure of Darwinian forces in the mining space.

Having bemoaned however the lack of the md-tier we might also bemoan the lack of majors. There has been a massive concentration in this group which has resulted in a situation where, back in the 1950s, one could have pointed to a score of diversified majors (many US-based) to a much depleted band these days. 

The survivors have gone beyond the categorization as majors and now are more accurately described as behemoths. There was a spooky moment late last year when the threatened takeover of RTZ by Glencore threatened to even reduce the ranks of the behemoths. Fortunately this proved to be just an attack of wind by Ivan Glasenberg.

Breaking up the Brontosaurs

There has been a spate of proposals in recent times to break up some of the biggest miners. BHP are spinning out South32, Vale are supposedly setting free the nickel (and other base metal) assets in a New INCO and Anglogold Ashanti went through gyrations last year first claiming it would spin out non-African assets and then doing an about-face. Chatter about RTZ disposing of diamonds or uranium interests, through demergers, surfaces from time to time.

Son of BHP

The Vale proposal is, I suspect, waiting to see how South32 goes (and also for a turn in the nickel price) while the Anglogold breakup is off the table (for now). However the South32 deal is very much alive and kicking, with a mid-May launch date.

BHP-Billiton is of course a behemoth with a heavy weighting towards iron ore, coal and oil & gas, but a plethora of other activities. Some bright spark has clearly persuaded the management that it should get rid of lesser activities (like being the largest manganese operations in the world and owning the largest silver mine) and instead focusing upon its three core commodities which all have a weak outlook at the moment. Perish the thought it might be the same type of investment bankers that thought Time Warner AOL might be a good combo! So this looks like a “taking candy from babies” opportunity for canny investors. Big dumb corporation throws baby out with bathwater and the opportunity is to try and catch the baby mid-air.

The spinout has been named South32 in a rather tenuous reference to the latitude upon which most of the major assets lie. Not really accurate, but in the annals of recent corporate namings it is one of the less obscure creations of the “branding arts”. The new entity will have operations in Australia, Brazil, Southern Africa and Colombia. The main assets will be:

GEMCO: largest Manganese ore producer
Cannington: largest silver producing mine (with lead and zinc)
Worsley Alumina: one of the largest alumina refineries
Hillside (aluminium smelter in South Africa), Mozal Aluminium (in Mozambique), Illawarra Metallurgical Coal, Cerro Matoso (nickel mine in Colombia), Alumar Refinery (aluminium in Brazil) and South Africa Energy Coal
Non-operated JV interests in Brazil (mainly a bauxite mine, refinery and smelter)

This makes for a very diversified company, by commodity and customer, with US$8.3bn of revenue in FY2014. The new company will be headquartered in Perth and will have listings on the ASX, JSE and LSE.

The new entity will be one of the major players in Manganese and aluminium; however as the chart below shows most of the revenue streams are rather well-balanced.



Interestingly the company is way less dependent upon China as a customer than many other majors.

Some have speculated that South32 might turn around and ditch the South African coal assets (to Mick Davis’sX2?). I would not shed a tear on that one. The opportunity then would come in bulking up the nickel part of the business, but more excitingly adding to the lead/zinc component to capitalize upon the Cannington position.

I am becoming more known these days for my gripes than my enthusiasms. A long held complaint (extant at least 7 years) has been at the denuding of the middle ranks of miners. If one looks at the mining market from a Darwinian perspective (and that is particularly apt in these days of survival of the fittest) the pyramid of life (and we use that word under advisement in the mining space) is extremely out of kilter. We have a handful of majors and vast plethora of juniors and a mid-tier that is severely underpopulated. 

This is not a natural situation. If one wonders why mining M&A is in such a torpor one not look much further than the lack of mid-tier companies for majors to munch upon. Just as a T-Rex would not have bothered chasing a squirrel (if they had even existed conterminously) thus mining majors cannot be bothered snuffling in the undergrowth of Vancouver or Perth to look for transactions that are canapés rather than main courses.

However, if we look at majors we have two ways in which they are created. One is by an existing historic major (BHP, Anglo-American, RTZ, Freeport-McMoran) devouring other smaller majors of mid-tier companies or by mid-tier companies bulking up through mergers with like-sized entities to catapult themselves into the top tier. 

Good examples of this are Barrick which went over decades, through a series of mergers from being nothing special to being a major (and still nothing special). Goldcorp, through its acquisitions of Glamis Gold and Wheaton River, is a better example of 1+1+1 equaling more than the sum of the parts. The mid-tier during the last decade and a half was not “restocked with names” because of the failure of Darwinian forces in the mining space.

Having bemoaned however the lack of the md-tier we might also bemoan the lack of majors. There has been a massive concentration in this group which has resulted in a situation where, back in the 1950s, one could have pointed to a score of diversified majors (many US-based) to a much depleted band these days. The survivors have gone beyond the categorization as majors and now are more accurately described as behemoths. There was a spooky moment late last year when the threatened takeover of RTZ by Glencore threatened to even reduce the ranks of the behemoths. Fortunately this proved to be just an attack of wind by Ivan Glasenberg.

Back in the early 1980s the first stock I ever bought was a very tiny amount of BHP (as it then was) and made a good turn on it. The price was embarrassingly low compared to where the stock stands now but the early 1980s were a grim period for most miners. The first time I have even been tempted to buy BHP since then is now… and strangely it’s so I can sell it… after having stripped out the South32 spin-out as a “keeper”.

Approval for the Demerger is being sought at shareholder meetings to be held in Perth and London on the 6th of May 2015. Under the spin-out proposal eligible shareholders would retain their existing shareholding in BHP Billiton and also receive a new share in South32 for every BHP Billiton share held (at the applicable record date which I understand to be mid-May). After that date South32 will be able to be kept and the BHP Billiton ditched with alacrity.

Perversely this opportunity (probably much to the chagrin of BHP’s execs) reminds me of Morticia Addams chopping the heads off roses to keep the thorny stem.

In the minds of the big strategists in the corporate suite of BHP, the “big metals” are the ones to keep. I would rather grasp the thorny stem any day….

Metal Prices Aid Glencore’s Chances with Rio Tinto



The biggest, most complex mining deal ever broached could boil down to a simple ratio: the price of copper versus the price of iron ore.

Glencore PLC, the Swiss mining giant with massive copper holdings, last year proposed a roughly $US150 billion merger with Rio Tinto PLC, among the world’s biggest producers of iron ore. Glencore’s announcement that Rio rebuffed the bid on October 7 set off a six-month moratorium under UK law from another approach.

That cooling-off period ends tomorrow, potentially opening the door to more talks. The two miners had never publicly disclosed potential terms, and Rio (RIO) executives haven’t encouraged new talks.

But two factors have swung in Glencore’s favour that could encourage a deal creating the world’s largest mining company and give investors exposure to every major commodity.

Glencore’s shares are up more than 15 per cent since mid-January, when they briefly hit their lowest level since the company went public in 2011 amid a decline in copper prices, while Rio’s have dipped 3 per cent.

A big reason for the divergence: Ironore prices have continued their long decline from highs of $US190 a tonne reached in 2011, recently hitting a 10-year low below $US50 a tonne. Copper prices, meanwhile, have rebounded by about 5 per cent to just north of $US6,000 a tonne in the past month.

Industry experts also don’t expect to see a recovery in the price of iron ore, a primary steelmaking ingredient, anytime soon. Caroline Bain, senior commodities economist at Capital Economics Ltd. in London, last month forecast that iron-ore prices are likely to hit $US45 a tonne by year-end as large surpluses of iron-ore continue to flood into the market and Chinese demand cools.

Such declines have been driven by unrelenting increase in iron ore production from Rio Tinto and its competitors such as BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA. If production isn’t curbed, prices could continue to fall, analysts say.

“Sooner or later either (Rio is) going to have to back away from the volume-growth strategy, or they’re going to have to face the prospect that their earnings are going to fall through the floor,” said Sanford C. Bernstein mining analyst Paul Gait. If Rio’s earnings keep falling and its share price suffers, “they’re going to be vulnerable to Glencore, “ he said.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has repeatedly said he isn’t interested in a deal with Glencore. At a February event in London, Mr Walsh said bluntly the merger “isn’t going to happen,” indicating he thought Glencore couldn’t pay a high-enough price.

Glencore’s shares have lost about one-fourth of their value since last July, when its chief executive, Ivan Glasenberg, placed a call to Rio Tinto Chairman Jan du Plessis to discuss a potential merger. Since Glencore would need to offer shares as part of the deal, the math has become significantly more daunting for Mr Glasenberg.

Glencore also is heavily exposed to the price of coal, which has stumbled for similar reasons to iron ore. Plus, any deal would face strict scrutiny from antitrust authorities in the UK and Australia, where Rio Tinto is based.

One of Glencore’s main hurdles in executing a Rio Tinto deal is its debt-heavy balance sheet. Glencore had $US30.5 billion in net debt at the end of 2014, compared with Rio’s $US12.5 billion in debt. That puts Glencore’s leverage ratio — net debt divided by the sum of debt and total equity — at about 40 per cent, roughly twice the leverage at Rio Tinto.

That could put a cap on how much more debt Glencore can take on to fund a Rio bid. More debt could threaten its credit ratings, putting pressure on its trading arm, which relies on leverage to fuel its operations.

In Glencore’s favour are rebounding copper prices, which could help push its share price higher. Mr Gait of Sanford C. Bernstein expects copper and other factors to help lift Glencore’s share price to nearly double where it currently stands.

Perhaps the biggest wildcard is China. China’s state-owned aluminium company, Chinalco, is Rio Tinto’s biggest shareholder. It has seen the value of its 9.8 per cent stake in the company cut roughly in half since it made the investment in 2008. Rio in 2009 rebuffed a bid by Chinalco to double its stake, which would have given it a seat on Rio’s board.

Those factors have brewed tensions with Chinalco, potentially leaving Beijing open to new leadership at Rio Tinto, said Michael Komesaroff, a long-time analyst of China and natural-resource trends.

A person who picked up the phone at Chinalco’s Beijing office said nobody was available for comment over the weekend, which was also a holiday in China.

Glencore in its 2013 merger with Xstrata proved it could bargain with the Chinese, getting Beijing’s approval for the deal in part by agreeing to sell its Las Bambas Peruvian copper project to a Chinese consortium.

China, the world’s biggest consumer of copper, is unlikely to have lost its appetite for ownership of copper mines, analysts say. One option for Glencore would be to offer to sell one of Rio’s prized copper mining assets, such as its 30 per cent stake in Chile’s Escondida mine.

“If the Chinese want to make it happen, it’s more than likely going to happen,” said Mr Komesaroff said.



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Friday, April 3, 2015

Will 3D Printing Have a Larger Economic Impact Than the Internet

Will 3D Printing Have a Larger Economic Impact Than the Internet






We are in the midst of exponential growth within the industry, and although I’m sure we will have obstacles come about along the way, the next decade is going to be an exciting one, not only for 3D printing, but for multiple technologies which are able to take advantage of the backbone of the internet, Big Data, and exponentially increasing computer power. How fast the market will expand is anyone’s guess — just like the internet’s growth was impossible to foretell in the ’90s.

What are your thoughts on Sammartino’s incredible predictions? Discuss in the Economic Impact of 3D Printing Forum thread on 3DPB.com.



Back in the late 1990s when the internet began creeping its way into homes and businesses, it was impossible to foretell the economic impact that it eventually would have on society as a whole. While estimates of its annual impact on the economy are all over the place, anywhere from $3 trillion to $6 trillion worldwide, one thing is for sure: it’s a game changer. In 2012, it was estimated that 4.7% of all US economic activity was the result of the internet. Three years later and this number has surely grown.

If you were to have asked me a few years ago if in our lifetime we’d see a technology as important to the world economy as the internet has been and continues to be, I likely would have said ‘no.’ Here we are in 2015 and I could probably name a couple technologies that may end up being as impactful as the internet has been. One such technology is 3D printing. Steve Sammartino, a digital entrepreneur, business adviser, and venture capitalist seems to agree with me on this one.

In a recent article written by Sarah Sedghi and Eleanor Hall, and published by ABC News in Australia, Sammartino made quite the prediction about the potential economic impact that 3D printing will have on our global economy. In fact, he believes that it will have a larger impact than even the internet has had, which certainly is saying something.



Steve Sammartino

“It’s just a little bit like the internet. When it arrived we thought, ‘Oh, that may be interesting for media’, but as we’ve seen it’s transformed every type of business no matter what industry,” Sammartino explained to ABC News. “The internet is an important part of our business, and 3D printing, while we can’t see exactly how that might manifest itself, there’s no doubt that it’ll change everything we do from just simple operations and the spaces we work in and in unforeseeable ways it’ll impact, I think, most businesses.”

So, the question is: Could 3D printing have as significant an impact on the global economy in the coming decade as the internet has had? Considering that in the US alone, the manufacturing sector generates approximately $2 trillion annually, and that eventually a large portion of manufacturing in this country and abroad will rely at least partially on 3D printing, Sammartino may be on to something. The United States in 2012 accounted for 17.4% of all manufacturing. That means that the global manufacturing sector is worth around $11.5 trillion annually.

Considering that the manufacturing sector is only a portion of what the total 3D printing industry will consist of, it’s very possible that Sammartino’s prediction could in fact be correct. It will certainly take time before 3D printing becomes mainstream enough to even comes close to achieving the $3 to $6 trillion estimated economic impact that the Internet currently is responsible for. In fact, we would need to see at least a 100,000% rise in the adoption rate by manufacturers as current estimates for the total value of the 3D printing space sit at around $3 billion.

“Even the way our homes are furnished will change and the type of things that we print at home. It’ll even have an impact on our foods — we’ll be 3D printing food. Smart brands will be selling components,” explains Sammartino. “Just like the ink jet printers get sold, you might have a chocolate company selling you the ingredients that go into your 3D printing machine to print things exactly the way that you want.”

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