I run reactions in towers, this is no secret, I spend nearly 10 billion ISK a month to run them through purchasing inputs/fuel. I make good money and enjoy the work.
One thing I make, Photonic Metamaterials, requires Promethium Mercurite to produce. The production of which requires Mercury and Promethium, of which the latter is currently around 50k per unit in Jita. I have the mercury thanks to a moon I'm using but I need to import the Promethium and nearly one third of my monthly costs goes on this one raw material.
I've been looking at either dumping the production of Photonic Metamaterials or finding a way to lower my costs. Finding a supplier of raw Promethium is nigh impossible and I don't think any I did find would sell to me under market price, after all it's a cash cow.
I can't remember exactly when I noticed the price difference between Promethium and Promethium Mercurite but I really should have noticed sooner. Turns out that the reacted Promethium Mercurite is about one third cheaper than the raw material Promethium and, logistically, is the same volume at 1m3.
If you can imagine comic blinking and a blank expression on a face, that's how I was when I realised this. I'm only reacting the Promethium and Mercury to make Promethium Mercurite which I then use in Metamaterial production. What if I just bought the processed Promethium Mercurite instead of the raw material, would this work.
Show Me The Money
A billion ISK a month is not to be sneezed at, I know people who can make this in an hour trading but that's not for me. Being able to save that billion ISK a month means I'll have more money to invest and it may result in a new venture or expansion of an existing one.
So I consulted a couple of knowledgeable people and they confirmed my thinking, if I moved form producing Promethium Mercurite to importing it I'd save at least 30% a month in material costs and this would be increased by selling the mercury I'm mining on the market at around 7,500 ISK per unit (~125m per week)
I've just had to do a run to Jita to replenish my materials for these towers and instead of buying a months Promethium I've bought the same amount of Promethium Mercurite. I still have about 20,000 units of Promethium to use up but once I do it'll be switched over to Promethium Mercurite and we'll see if my hypothesis was correct.