Platinum Group Metals (PGM)
South Africa holds the largest-known reserves at 63,000 tons
Platinum group metals (PGM) are known for their purity, high melting points and catalytic properties. In addition to their oxidation & reduction properties, they are also extremely resistant to corrosion. They play critical role in autocatalysis and pollution control in the automotive sector , and more recently, in the green hydrogen industry as a catalyst of PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) electrolyzers.
PGM are among the rarest mineral commodities in earth’s crust. They occur together in nature, closely associated with nickel and copper. The majority (about 80 %) of Platinum is mined in South Africa, around 10 % is mined in Russia, and the rest is found in North and South America .
Rarer than gold
More than ten times rarer than gold, Platinum total annual mine supply is around 250 metric tons. Extracting Platinum is both capital & labor intensive: it can take up to 6 months and 7 to 12 tons of ore to produce one troy ounce (31.1g) of pure Platinum . Moreover, PGM refining may be a complex process because the chemical similarities of the metals make their separation difficult .
In 2030, the electrolysis industry alone may require, cumulatively, between 300 and 600 koz (8.5 and 17 tons) of Platinum to meet Europe Union and China green hydrogen generation capacity target (of 40 GW and 30GW, respectively) .
Table 1 shows the top 5 Platinum- and Palladium-producing countries.
Table 1: Top 5 Platinum- and Palladium-producing countries