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Complete List of Platinum Group Metals – PGM’s

A Dive into the world of PGM's

Platinum Group Metals

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What does PGM stand for?

Platinum Group Metals are often referred to as PGMs

What are the Six Platinum Group Metals?

Why aren't Gold and Silver considered part of the Platinum Group Metals?

Platinum metals, in contrast to gold and silver, can only be extracted and identified by a sophisticated aqueous chemical processing, rather than through simple fire refining.

Descriptions of the 6 Platinum Group Metals

Iridium Symbol - Ir

Iridium PGM

An element in the periodic table, Iridium is a rare transition metal with an atomic number of 77. Iridium was discovered by Swedish chemist Carl Fredrik Wiberg at the University of Lund on May 8, 1803.

Among PGMs, Iridium is the rarest and exhibits the greatest resistance to corrosion. Its high chemical and thermal stability, along with biological compatibility, lends it to numerous medical applications, much like Platinum.

Iridium is most notable for its use in the manufacturing of heat-resistant alloys, which are used to make thermometer probes and parts for jet engines. Iridium exhibits unusual resistance to oxygen corrosion, making it useful as high temperature crucibles and containers for sampling substances that react with atmospheric oxygen. It also has electrical properties similar to those of silver.

Osmium: The Densest and Hardest

Osmium Symbol - Os

Osmium PGM

Osmium is a chemical element that has the symbol Os and atomic number 76. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston in Birmingham, England. 

Osmium is the densest and hardest member of the PGMs, often alloyed with other PGMs like platinum and iridium. It is an excellent conductor of electricity and an effective oxidation catalyst. Its applications range from fuel cells to forensic science.

Osmium is a hard brittle metal that oxidizes quickly when exposed to oxygen or water. It is found primarily in the form of osmates, but also occurs as an allotrope with a hexagonal close-packed structure called aurostibite. Osmium is used for making electrical contacts, catalytic converters, fuel cells, and alloys such as platinum–osmium. The bulk material obtained from osmic acid can be either pure or alloyed with other metals.

Palladium: The Hydrogen Absorber

Palladium Symbol - Pd

Palladium PGM

Palladium is one of the rarest metals on earth, but it is still common enough to be found in jewellery, auto parts, and other everyday items. Palladium has a unique ability to resist corrosion. It also has a very high melting point, melting point is 1552 C, and it boils at 3980 C. Palladium is not toxic unless ingested and does not emit any harmful fumes. 

Though not as popular as platinum in jewellery production, Palladium is a versatile precious metal predominantly used in catalytic converters to reduce vehicle emissions. Its applications extend across various industries, including electronics for making electrical components and semiconductors, jewelry as an alloying agent, and dentistry for dental alloys.

Additionally, it serves as a catalyst in chemical reactions and hydrogen storage systems, is used in fuel cells, aids in high-quality photographic processes, and plays a role in the manufacture of LCD glass. These uses leverage palladium’s excellent catalytic properties, resistance to corrosion, and high thermal and electrical conductivities.

The first documented use for palladium was as an alloy with silver more than 4000 years ago in India. The element can be extracted from its ores using a variety of techniques, including chemical reduction, electrolysis, ion exchange, gas absorption, precipitation, thermochemical processes, and pyrometallurgy.

This delicate, silvery-white metal is highly prized for its catalytic capabilities. With a melting point that is higher than that of other PGMs, it is also the most stable.

Platinum: More Than a Symbol of Prestige

Platinum Symbol - Pt
Platinum Platinum Group Metals

Platinum, a well-recognised element of PGMs, extends far beyond its ubiquitous presence in jewellery. With a high melting point and temperature stability, Platinum is resistant to corrosion and oxidation, making it an excellent oxidation catalyst. Moreover, its biological compatibility lends to significant applications in medicine.

Platinum is a very rare metal with an atomic number of 78. It is the most common of the platinum group metals and it is also one of the most useful metals in industrial chemistry. Platinum has been used in jewellery for centuries, such as China and silverware, but its industrial uses are what make it so expensive.

The chemical properties of platinum can be grouped into four broad categories: physical, electronic, electrochemical, and catalytic. The colourless metallic element is soft enough to cut easily by hand or will fracture if struck against hard objects.

Rhodium: The Active Catalyst

Rhodium Symbol - Rh

Rhodium Platinum Group Metals

Rhodium, another member of the PGMs, is an active catalyst predominantly employed in controlling vehicle emissions due to its high melting point and temperature stability. It also has a role in the manufacture of glass.

The 45th atomic number. Silvery-white, very hard, corrosive-resistant, and chemically inert, it is a transition metal. Although it is the most expensive of the precious metals, Rhodium’s physical properties make it one of the most valuable. Rhodium is rarer than platinum and gold, yet it can withstand high temperatures where other metals will melt. 

Rhodium is used in turbocompressors in cars. It’s also used to make optical lenses for cameras and microscopes. Rhodium’s beneficial properties are hard won at great expense. Most ore deposits contain only a few parts per million (ppm) compared to billions of ppm in pure metal. The discovery of new reserves or improved mining techniques means that production costs can be kept low.

Ruthenium: The Hard Alloying Agent

Ruthenium Symbol - Ru

Rhodium Platinum Group Metals

Ruthenium is the 44th element on the periodic table, and one of five rare metals. It is a shiny metal that is not only resistant to corrosion but also has strong catalytic properties which make it valuable for use in chemical processes.

Despite its brittleness, Ruthenium is a strong alloying agent for platinum and palladium. Ruthenium shares the high melting point and superior catalytic properties with other PGMs. It finds usage in the electrical and electrochemical industries due to its conductive properties and durability.

Ruthenium is one of the rarest metals on Earth with annual production rates at less than 1 kg per year. The major ruthenium-containing minerals are carnotite (rutile) and monnartosite (mixed ruthenates). Ruthenium occurs naturally as an impurity in iron ore deposits near Rhine mine, Durban, South Africa.

Platinum Group Metals Have a Wide Range of Applications

They all share some common traits: they’re immune to oxidation, they’re all shiny and silvery in appearance and they’re usually malleable. For this reason they are often used to create jewellery or high-end electronics because they are highly conductive of heat, electricity, and light.

For example, palladium and platinum are used as catalysts in the petroleum industry, while iridium and platinum are used to make pacemakers and other medical implants and osmium and rhodium are used in the production of nitric acid and chemicals like cleaning liquids, adhesives, and paints.

PGMs have exceptional catalytic capabilities. For exquisite jewellery, platinum’s resistance to wear and tarnishing makes it a good choice. This material is resistant to chemical assault, has good thermal qualities and is stable electrically.

All of these characteristics have been put to good use in the manufacturing process. For the formation of single crystals, particularly oxides like platinum, platinum alloys, and iridium are often employed as crucible materials. 

Ammonia is partially oxidized to produce nitric oxide, which is used in fertilizers, explosives, and nitric acid.

The chemical industry utilizes platinum or a platinum-rhodium alloy catalyst gauze to catalyze this process. As catalysts in synthetic organic chemistry, many PGM have emerged in recent years. The titanium anodes used to produce chlorine and caustic are coated with ruthenium dioxide.

For the petrochemical sector, platinum-supported catalysts are employed in the refinement of crude oil, reforming, and other processes that produce high-octane gasoline and aromatic chemicals.

How are PGM’s used in the Automotive Industry?

When it comes to PGM’s the automotive sector has been a major user since the Seventies. As an oxidation catalyst in catalytic converters used to treat car exhaust pollutants, palladium, platinum, and rhodium have been employed for decades. 

Low-voltage and low-energy connections, thick- and thin-film circuits, thermocouples and furnace components, and electrodes all employ a broad variety of PGM alloy compositions.

Who are the main PGM Refineries?

When it comes to the refining of PGM’s the number of refineries globally is much smaller than gold and silver due to the longer processing and chemical extraction processing techniques. The major PGM refineries in this space are the like of:

Anglo American Platinum Limited

Anglo American Platinum Limited is a mining company based in South Africa. The company is a subsidiary of the Anglo American Group and is one of the largest producers of platinum in the world.

Founded in 1995, the company has grown steadily and now operates in multiple locations across South Africa, including the Rustenburg, Mogalakwena, and Amandelbult mines. Anglo American Platinum Limited employs more than 30,000 people and is committed to sustainable mining practices that prioritize community development, environmental protection, and responsible resource management.

Approximately 40% of freshly mined platinum is produced by the Anglo American Platinum group, the world’s top main producer. As the ores mined include PGMs, the amount of other PGMs it creates is likewise governed by their abundance. Palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium are the other PGMs except platinum.

The company is passionate about the transformative power of the mining industry and is dedicated to creating a positive impact in the communities it operates in. Despite facing challenges from declining platinum prices and geopolitical instability, Anglo American Platinum Limited continues to uphold its commitment to excellence and innovation in the mining industry.

BASF Corporation

BASF Corporation is a global leader in the production and supply of PGM (platinum group metals) products. PGMs are used for various applications, including catalytic converters for automobiles and chemical processes in the manufacturing industry.

BASF’s PGM business includes manufacturing, refining, and distributing these metals, which are primarily sourced from mines in South Africa and Russia. The company offers a range of products, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, and ruthenium.

BASF also provides technical services and support to its customers, ensuring that their products meet the highest quality standards. The PGM business is one of the key growth drivers for BASF, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and responsible sourcing.

Overall, BASF’s PGM business plays a critical role in supporting sustainable development and innovation across various industries.

Heraeus Precious Metals GmbH & Co.

Heraeus Precious Metals GmbH & Co.  is a German precious metal refining and marketing company catering to businesses in various industries worldwide. The company produces and trades precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium as well as precious metal products such as wire, tubing, and precious metal compounds.

Heraeus serves a broad range of markets, including the chemical, semiconductor, and automotive industries, and offers services such as metal management, technical support, and laboratory services.

With a well-established presence in the precious metals industry, they strive to maintain excellent quality, sustainability, and service standards. Furthermore, they aim to develop innovative solutions that cater to the diverse needs of their customers, making them the preferred choice in the precious metal market.

Impala Platinum Ltd.

Impala Platinum Ltd. is a leading supplier of platinum group metals (PGMs), which include platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, and osmium. They are mined primarily in South Africa and Russia, and used in a variety of industrial applications including automotive catalytic converters, jewelry, and electronics.

The company’s PGM business is primarily focused on the mining, refining, and processing of these metals, with production concentrated in Impala’s Rustenburg and Marula mines in South Africa. The company has a strong reputation for sustainability, with a commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and promoting responsible mining practices.

Impala’s PGM business has also been impacted by fluctuations in the global economy and demand for these metals, but the company remains well-positioned to meet demand and navigate changing market conditions.

Overall, Impala Platinum Ltd. is a valuable contributor to the PGM sector and the broader South African economy.

Ishifuku Metal Industry Co.

Ishifuku Metal Industry Co. is a leading Japanese company that specializes in the production and distribution of platinum group metals (PGMs). The company has been in business for over 60 years and has developed a strong reputation for quality, reliability, and innovation.

Ishifuku produces a wide range of PGM products, including catalytic converters, jewelry, and industrial materials that are used in electronics, automotive, and medical industries.

Ishifuku’s PGM business is unique because the company is committed to sustainability and environmental responsibility. The company follows strict guidelines for resource management, waste reduction, and recycling. This approach has helped the company reduce its environmental footprint and improve its reputation among customers and stakeholders.

Overall, Ishifuku’s PGM business is a leader in the industry due to its commitment to quality, innovation, and sustainability. The company’s long-standing reputation and focus on customer satisfaction make it a top choice for businesses looking for high-quality PGM products.

Johnson Matthey PLC is a leading global provider of sustainable technologies that enhance the quality of life for people around the world. One of its most significant businesses is the Platinum Group Metal (PGM) division that deals with the sourcing, production, and marketing of platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

This business unit specializes in providing advanced PGM solutions to customers across industries such as automotive, chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceuticals. Johnson Matthey’s PGM division also leverages its expertise in Catalysis, Process Technologies, and Precious Metals Management to create value for its clients and stakeholders.

The company’s primary focus is to provide sustainable PGM products and solutions that contribute to environmental sustainability, innovation, and resource efficiency. Johnson Matthey has a global PGM production capacity of approximately six million ounces, with operations spanning across Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.

Overall, the PGM business is a critical component of Johnson Matthey’s sustainability-focused portfolio of businesses, helping to create a cleaner and more sustainable future.

JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel is a Russian mining company that specializes in the extraction of various metals, including platinum group metals (PGMs). The company has a significant presence in the global PGM market and is one of the largest producers of PGMs in the world, with a market share of over 40%.

Norilsk Nickel’s PGM business is based on the extraction of palladium and platinum from its mines in Russia. The company operates several mines in the Norilsk region of Siberia, which contain some of the world’s richest deposits of these metals.

The company’s PGM business has been a major contributor to its revenue and profits in recent years. Norilsk Nickel has benefited from strong demand for PGMs in various industries, including automotive, electronics, and jewelry.

Overall, JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel’s PGM business is an important part of its operations and has helped to establish the company as a leading player in the global metals market.

Northam Platinum Ltd

Northam Platinum Limited is a leading producer of platinum group metals (PGMs) and operates out of the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. The company’s focus is on underground mining, processing and refining of PGMs, primarily consisting of platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium, and gold.

Northam’s flagship operation is the Zondereinde mine, which is an underground mining operation focused on the extraction of PGMs from the Merensky and UG2 reefs. The company’s Eland and Booysendal mines also contribute significantly to its PGM production. Furthermore, Northam has recently acquired a significant stake in the metal recycling business, Heraeus South Africa.

Overall, Northam Platinum Limited has a strong focus on sustainability, safety, and social responsibility, and is committed to long-term value creation for all its stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, communities, and the environment. As a result, Northam has established itself as a reputable and responsible player in the PGM industry.

Sibanye-Stillwater

Sibanye-Stillwater is a leading South African mining company that specializes in precious metals, with a particular focus on platinum group metals (PGMs). The company’s PGM business is a critical component of its operations, accounting for a substantial portion of its overall revenue and profits.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s PGM operations include a range of mining activities, such as exploration, extraction, and processing of PGM ores. The company also operates refining and smelting facilities that enable it to produce high-quality PGM products that are in demand around the world.

Sibanye-Stillwater is committed to responsible mining practices and sustainable production, with a focus on minimizing its impact on the environment and maximizing the benefits for its stakeholders. With a strong track record of success in the PGM industry, Sibanye-Stillwater is well-positioned to remain a leader in this sector for years to come.

Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K.

Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K. is a Japanese company that specializes in the precious metals business. In particular, they are renowned for their platinum group metals (PGM) business. PGMs are a group of six rare metals, consisting of platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium.

These metals are incredibly valuable and used in a variety of industries, such as jewelry making, automotive manufacturing, and chemical production. Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K. has developed advanced technologies to refine and recycle these metals, making them a leading player in the global PGM market.

The company has a strong commitment to sustainability, and their innovative “urban mining” processes enable the recovery of PGMs from discarded materials. With a focus on quality, innovation, and sustainability, Tanaka Kikinzoku K.K.’s PGM business continues to be a key contributor to the growth of the global precious metals industry.

Umicore

Umicore is a global materials technology company based in Belgium that specializes in the development and production of platinum group metals (PGMs). PGMs are a group of six precious metals, including platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium, that are widely used in various industrial applications, including automotive catalysts, industrial catalysts, electronics, and jewelry.

The company’s PGM business accounts for a significant portion of Umicore’s overall revenue, and it has established itself as a leading supplier of PGMs to various industries worldwide. Umicore’s PGM business involves the extraction, refining, and recycling of precious metals, with a focus on sustainable and responsible sourcing.

In addition to producing PGMs, Umicore also offers a range of PGM-related products and services, including catalysts, chemicals, and materials for various applications. The company’s expertise in PGMs has enabled it to develop innovative technologies that help reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency, further reinforcing its commitment to sustainability.

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