Platinum group metals or PGMs are essential metals in the modern world, but until recently they’ve been an obscure investment in the Australian market. The platinum group metals (PGM) include platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium. These metals have similar physical and chemical properties and occur together in nature. The major three in platinum, palladium and rhodium, are prized for their catalytic qualities.
PGM versus PGE
PGE or platinum group metals are interchangeable also known as PGE, platinum group elements. They are “noble metals”. They are considered noble because they demonstrate outstanding resistance to chemical attack even at high temperatures – other noble metals include gold and silver. E.g. platinum has an extremely high melting point at 1768°C / 3215°F
Use of Platinum Group Metals
Most know of platinum in jewellery or investment, but an equal amount is used in autocatalytic converters.
According to SFA Oxford, new platinum demand from hydrogen power will total more than 400,000 ounces by 2030 from the demand of less than 50,000 oz of platinum production today. Bosch in 2019 reduced platinum use in hydrogen fuel cells by a factor of 10.
PGM in Catalytic Converters
Platinum, palladium and rhodium are key components in the fuel efficiency converters that help vehicles with internal combustion engines follow modern emissions standards. Increasing emissions standards will drive up demand. Platinum is better suited for treating vehicle emissions from diesel, while vehicles that run using gasoline primarily utilize palladium.
PGM have gone from Obscurity to Fame
While most of the world’s population knows about platinum in jewellery, the industrial uses of platinum, mines and markets are not well understood, especially in Australia.
- Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) shot to fame by making the first major PGM discovery, the palladium rich Julimar project 70km north of Perth in 2020, inspiring a rush of explorers into the district and commodity class.
- New applications linked to the green energy transition have emerged, including the role of PGEs in fuel cells and electrolysers that use renewable energy to convert water into so-called “green hydrogen”.
- Russia’s dominance in the world palladium market. It produces about 40% of the world’s mined palladium, with South Africa close behind and a big gap to third place. As sanctions and boycotts against Russia have expanded since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, palladium prices have risen to all time highs of a touch under US$3500/oz on supply fears.
There is not a shortage of platinum, and the price is about US$1100/oz. Platinum is typically the metal of choice in diesel cars and has large side markets as an investment asset and in jewellery. But platinum group elements are also used in fuel cells, where cumulative demand will increase significantly in the coming years.
Palladium and its sister metal rhodium are largely used in standard gasoline cars, with the bulk of the metal being sold to makers of catalytic converters. All up annual global demand for palladium is around 10.5Moz, platinum 7.5Moz and rhodium, which is currently trading in excess of US$20,000/oz, 1.2Moz.
Previously it had been assumed demand for palladium would rise 700,000oz, and a 12% increase in rhodium, due to a rebound in auto production after semiconductor shortages curbed the industry’s productivity in 2021.
Historically palladium was a lower value metal – when platinum hit all time highs above US$2000/oz in 2008 palladium was fetching less than US$500/oz – but became more economic to mine as emissions standards became stricter and carmakers substituted it for the more expensive platinum in catalytic converters
South Africa And Russia Dominate Supply
Primary producers are Russia and South Africa and combined, produce 80% of supply. Palladium is a by product of platinum (SA) or nickel mines (Russia)
- South Africa accounts for 70% of platinum global production
- The Bushveld Complex in Sth Africa is the largest source of magmatic ores in the entire world with an areal extent of 66,000km2 of igneous rocks formed 2.1 billion years ago.
- The largest source of platinum and palladium ore in the world, at one stage containing a respective 75% and 50% of the world’s known resources.
- Around 7Moz of palladium, 6Moz of platinum and 700,000oz-800,000Moz rhodium is mined annually with catalyst recycling making up a large part of the shortfall.
Russia / Ukraine
- Russian is 2nd largest producer of palladium (40%)
- Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the market was looking at supply shortages from 2023 onwards.
- A large % of Russian palladium goes to China.
- The Ukraine events will create a gap for the 50% potential shortfall.
PGM / PGE Companies on ASX and Canada
For details check out Stockhead or other commentators on companies.
Platinum Group Metals (PGM)PGM or platinum group elements are six minerals that tend to occur together. Often the miners have been gold explores and discover PGE as well.
|CHN||Chalice Mining||2,500||Julimar mix of platinum, gold, palladium, nickel, copper and cobalt containing 17moz of palladium equivalent||Chalice Mining|
|ZIM||Zimplats Holdings Ltd||2,900||Up almost 400% over the last five years. 543,000oz of 6E metals including platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, ruthenium and iridium in 2020-21 from a network of mines and smelters in Zimbabwe.||Zimplats|
|POD||Podium||125||Aiming to become Australia’s first PGM producer from its Parks Reef project in mid west WA, Australia||Podium Minerals|
|IPT||Impact Minerals||24||Projects on the western margin of the Yilgarn Craton.||Impact|
|IGO||IGO||9,600||Near Broken Hill has identified a large 420m by 85m EM conductor around 350m below surface around 1000m along trend from a previous hole that struck high grade PGM mineralisation including 0.6 metres at 11.5 g/t platinum, 25.6 g/t palladium, 1.4 g/t gold, 7.6% copper, 7.4% nickel and 44.3 g/t silver from 57.1 metres downhole.||IGO|
|ORN||Orion Minerals Ltd||109||Primarily Ni / CU in Sth Africa, but has PGM at Walhalla-Woods Point District in Vic, Aus||Orion Minerals|
|Canadian Vancover||Name||Cap $C||Notes||Website|
|AZM||Azimut Exploration Inc.||100||Mostly gold||Azimut Expoloration|
|BEN.V||Benton||$C19||High-grade, near-surface Platinum Group Metals (PGM) deposits with a historic resource.||Benton Resources|
|CBA||Champion Bear Resources Ltd.||8.5||Gold, Platinum group metals, Copper, Poly-metallics, Tantalum and REE.||Champion Bear|
|ELR||Eastern Platinum Limited||$AU46||targets are Gold, Platinum group metals, Copper, Poly-metallics, Tantalum and REE.||Champion Bear|
|FMC||Forum Energy Metals Corp.||43||Cu, uranium and nickel palladium around Saskatchewans Athabasca basin||Forum Energy --|
|FNV||Franco-Nevada Corporation||$US30||Mosly gold||Franco Nevada|
|GENM||Generation Mining Ltd||175||developing the 100%-owned Marathon Palladium-Copper project in Northwestern Ontario.||Generation Mining--|
|GRDM||Grid Metals Corp.||19||portfolio of properties where it is actively exploring for Nickel-Copper-PGM-Cobalt, palladium and lithium.||Grid Metasl|
|LSX||Lasalle Exploration Corp||8||gold and base metals within Québec and Ontario.||Laselle|
|MD||Midland Exploration Inc.||40||gold, PGE’s and base metals in one of Canada’s richest mining provinces, Quebec||Midland Exploration|
|MEK||Metals Creek Resources Corp.||18||Mostly gold + base metals||Metals Creek|
|NAM.V||New Age Metals||$C25||Canadian Palladium in Ontario and Lithium in Manitoba, and PGM in Alaska||New Age Metals|
|NCP||Nickel Creek Platinum Corp.||44||Yukon 1.8 billion pounds of nickel, 1.1 billion pounds of copper, 5.7 million ounces of platinum group metals ("PGM's") 107 million pounds of cobalt||Nickel Creek|
|NOT||Noront||$C442||high-grade, nickel, copper and platinum group element (PGE) deposit called Eagle’s Nest in Ontario||Noront|
|NIKL||Gk Resources Ltd||3||unknown|
|NNX||Nickel North Exploration Corp.||4||CU-NI-PGM in Quebec||Nickel North|
|NRN||Northern Shield Resources Inc.||7.2||New, explorer gold||Northern Shield|
|PGE||Group Ten Metals Inc.||72||Stillwater West PGE-Ni-Cu project adjacent to the high-grade Stillwater mines in Montana, USA||Group Ten|
|PTM||Platinum Group Metals Ltd.||271||South Africa||Platinum Group Metals|
|RMO||Rainy Mountain Royalty Corp.||2||Brunswick Gold, Marshall Lake VMS Copper, Zinc, Silver and Gold, Norton Ni-Cu-Co||Rainy Mountain|
|TLO||Talon Metals Corp.||551||NI, Cu, Co||Talon Metals|
|VUL||Vulcan Minerals Inc.||27||Cu Au, Newfoundland. nickel-copper-cobalt magmatic sulfide deposite||Vulcan Minerals|
|WM||Wallbridge Mining Company Limited||359||Fenelon Gold project, and Ni Copper PGM in Ontario||Wallbridge|
World’s top five platinum-mining companies
- Anglo American Platinum – 2.05
- Impala Platinum – 1.31
- Sibanye-Stillwater – 1.08
- Northam Platinum – 0.9
- Norilsk Nickel – 0.7