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What Are Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) And Where Do I Use Them?

  • Platinum Group Metals (PGMs), or platinum-group elements (PGE), comprise six elements: platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), ruthenium (Ru), iridium (Ir) and osmium (Os). 

  • The PGMs show very similar chemical properties, while their physical properties vary. Common characteristics of the PGMs, which are the basis of most of their applications, include outstanding catalytic activity, very high resistance to corrosion and oxidation (“noble metals”), very high melting point, high density, excellent electrical conductivity, general non-toxicity (except Os), ability to form alloys, excellent resistance to wear and tarnish, and stability to high temperatures.

  • The PGMs are considered as precious metals, like gold and silver; nevertheless, they are widely used metals and essential for certain industrial applications.


  • PGMs are used in petroleum refining, petrochemical processing, air pollution control, as well as in electronics (computer hard drives, fuel cells, thermocouples, multilayer ceramic capacitors, plasma display screens, touchpads on all hand-held devices)

  • Moreover, they are used in flat-screen TVs, fiberglass, sputtering targets for reflective coatings on windows, air bags, anti-lock brakes, spark plugs, oxygen sensors, jet engines; turbine blades, dental alloys, cancer fighting drugs, stents for blocked arteries, pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

Where Are PGMs Produced?

  • The global producers of PGMs are:

    • For Iridium/Ruthenium/Osmium, South Africa 93,5% and Zimbabwe 4,9%

    • For Palladium, Russia 40%, South Africa 36% and Canada 9,9%

    • For Platinum, South Africa 70,8%, Russia 12% and Zimbabwe 8%

    • For Rhodium, South Africa 81%, Russia 10% and Zimbabwe 6%

  • Due to the geographic location of PGM reserves, the PGM mining activities are concentrated in very few countries. The lower number of mines and the high grade of specialization required results in a low number of companies mining and refining PGMs.


Global Market​​

  • Data and data quality varies quite strongly among the different PGMs. The markets for platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd) and rhodium (Rh) are globally the most important and largest in both quantity and value. Iridium, ruthenium and osmium markets are much smaller with very special applications and market data is quite scarce.

  • In 2021 South Africa was the leading producer of PGMs with a market share of 73% for Pt and 39% for Pd (Johnson Matthey, 2021). Russia produced about 10% of global primary Pt and 38% of Pd. Both countries together supplied 83% of global primary Pt and 77% of Pd. In total, global PGM production from primary sources for the year 2021 was approx. 463.2t, with 86% allocated to Pt and Pd.

Specific Issues for PGMs

  • Available substitutes are often other PGMs or nickel, cobalt and gold. Moreover, the fact that the PGMs are co-products produced together from the same ores means that the supply of the various PGMs is coupled and thus their ability to substitute for one another in the event of supply disruption is limited.

  • Overall, it was concluded that the potential for PGM substitution in most high-volume applications is limited.  



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