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10 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2022 When I wrote Part 1 on this topic in Janu- ary, the global geopolitical landscape could be characterized as "status quo"—testy, challeng- ing, yet absent of "war" in any region of the world. Now with Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which elevates the peril and uncertainty of metals, minerals and materials into overdrive, the title of the article may warrant: "Critical Materials—A Precariously Escalated Compel- ling Case." How uncertain? Take nickel (Ni) as an exam- ple. Its price soared on March 8, 2022, reach- ing the record $100,000 a metric ton on the London Metals Exchange (LME); however, it pulled back later. Its dramatic pricing volatility made the LME pause the trading on March 8 and trading resumed on March 16 (the episode is under review by regulators and LME). Nickel is not a "fancy" metal, but it is a key ingredient for stainless steel and lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles (EV), among others. Russia is a major supplier of nickel (China is another supplier), not to mention the oil, gas, and other minerals and materials. Russia is also a major supplier of precious metals including palladium (Pd), which is an essential element being used in catalytic converters and semiconductor manufactur- ing. It is reported that about one-third of the world's palladium comes from Russia. Within the semiconductor industry, some sources of production of raw materials are concen- trated in Russia and Ukraine. For instance, the two countries are major sources of neon gas, which is used for making circuitry on silicon. It is estimated about one-quarter to one-half Critical Materials: A Compelling Case, Part 2 SMT Prospects & Perspectives by Dr. Jennie S. Hwang, CEO, H-TECHNOLOGIES GROUP

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