Platinum Group - Ruthenium, Rhodium, Palladium, Osmium, Iridium, Platinum

Platinum is an exceedingly rare, silvery-white precious metal used in jewelry making, electronics components and various industrial applications. Platinum is an element with the atomic number 78, and gets its chemical symbol Pt from the Spanish word Platina or "little silver". About half of all global platinum consumption is for the manufacture of automobile catalytic converters.

Platinum is about 30 times rarer than gold and found in only a few deposits worldwide. The largest known primary reserves are in South Africa's Bushweld complex, followed by deposits near Norilsk, Russia and the Sudbury Basin, Canada.

Platinum Prices

Platinum futures contracts are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange under ticker symbol PL and are delivered every year in January, April, July, October, November, and December.

What Impacts the Price of Platinum?

Because so much of platinum's demand stems from car manufacturers, downturns in the auto industry significantly affect the metal's price. During the 2008 market meltdown, platinum prices fell 65% from their peak, driven downward in part by faltering car sales worldwide.

In addition, in 2008 platinum experienced a surplus that was expected to continue well into 2009, and perhaps even 2010. This oversupply had also negatively impacted platinum prices.

However, platinum started to regain its strength early in 2009. As investors returned to the metal, seeking a safe haven, holdings of ETF Securities' Physical Platinum ETF (LSE: PHPT) rose 87% over the first quarter of the year.

In April 2009, ETF Securities announced it would launch ETFS Physical Platinum Shares (NYSE: PPLT) a bullion-backed platinum ETF in the U.S., which led some to speculate that hoarding bullion for the ETF could cause shortages and drive up prices. Similar concerns were raised about the launch of ETFS' first platinum ETF in Europe back in 2007, but the fund's impact on the market was hard to discern at the time, due to roving blackouts in South Africa that had disrupted supply.

Other platinum ETF's include:

Click symbol lookup at our Detailed Quote Portal found at the top-left of all of our webpages for more platinum ETFs by: Ishares, Societe Generale, UBS and others.

Platinum Group Metals (PGM)

The platinum group metals, called PGMs, Platinoids, Platidises, Platinum Group, Platinum Metals or Platinum Group Elements (PGEs) is a term used sometimes to collectively refer to six metallic elements clustered together in the periodic table. These elements are all transition metals, lying in the d-block (groups 8, 9, and 10, periods 5 and 6).

The six platinum group metals are: Ruthenium, Rhodium, Palladium, Osmium, Iridium, and Platinum. They have similar physical and chemical properties, and tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits. However they can be further subdivided into the Iridium-Group Platinum Group Elements (IPGEs: Os, Ir, Ru) and the Palladium-Group Platinum Group Elements (PPGEs: Rh, Pt, Pd) based on their behaviour in geological systems.


Naturally occurring platinum and platinum-rich alloys have been known by pre-Columbian Americans for many years. Though the metal was used by pre-Columbian peoples, the first European reference to platinum appears in 1557 in the writings of the Italian humanist Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558) as a description of a mysterious metal found in Central American mines between DariƩn (Panama) and Mexico ("up until now impossible to melt by any of the Spanish arts").

The Spaniards named the metal platina ("little silver") when they first encountered it in Colombia. They regarded platinum as an unwanted impurity in the silver they were mining.


The platinum metals have outstanding catalytic properties. They are highly resistant to wear and tarnish, making platinum, in particular, well suited for fine jewelry. Other distinctive properties include resistance to chemical attack, excellent high-temperature characteristics, and stable electrical properties. All these properties have been exploited for industrial applications.


The production of pure platinum group metals normally starts from residues of the production of other metals with a mixture of several of those metals. A typical starting product is the anode residue of gold, copper or nickel production. The differences in chemical reactivity and solubility of several compounds of the metals under extraction are used to separate them.

A first step is to dissolve all the metals in aqua regia forming their respective Cl-complexes. If silver is present, this is then separated by forming insoluble silver chloride. Rhodium sulfate is separated after the salts have been melted together with sodium bisulfate and leached with water. The residue is then melted together with sodium peroxide, which dissolves all the metals and leaves the iridium. The two remaining metals, ruthenium and osmium, form ruthenium and osmium tetroxides after chlorine has been added to the solution. The osmium tetroxide is then dissolved in alcoholic sodium hydroxide and separated from the ruthenium tetroxides. All of these metals' final chemical compounds can ultimately be reduced to the elemental metal using hydrogen.

Production in Nuclear Reactors

Significant quantities of the three light platinum group metals - Ruthenium, Rhodium and Palladium - are formed as fission products in nuclear reactors. With escalating prices and increasing global demand, reactor-produced noble metals are emerging as an alternative source. Various reports are available on the possibility of recovering fission noble metals from spent nuclear fuel.

Recently there is an upsurge in the recovery of valuable fission products which reflects in the form of articles in leading scientific journals. Palladium has been of special interest due to its less complex behavior when compared to rhodium and ruthenium. The special interest in palladium may be also due to its widespread application in chemical catalysis and the electronics industry. Several research groups are exploring the possibility of recovering palladium by various methods like direct electrolysis of high-level liquid waste, using room temperature ionic liquids (RTILs) as electrolyte for nuclear fuel dissolution and recovery, solvent extraction, ion exchange, etc. Room temperature ionic liquids have been employed to recover rhodium, and ruthenium also recently.

Palladium Prices

Palladium futures contracts are traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange under ticker symbol PA

Palladium is an element with the symbol Pd and atomic number 46, named after the asteroid Pallas. It is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal that has the lowest melting point and is the least dense of all the PGMs. As a commodity, palladium bullion has ISO currency codes of XPD and 964. Only three other metals have such codes: gold, silver and platinum.

Over half of the supply of palladium and its congener platinum goes into catalytic converters, which convert up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhaust (hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide) into less-harmful substances (nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor). Palladium is also used in electronics, jewelry, dentistry, medicine, hydrogen purification, chemical applications, and groundwater treatment. Palladium plays a key role in the technology used for fuel cells, which combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.

In 2007, Russia was the top producer of palladium, with a 44% world share, followed by South Africa with 40%. Canada with 6% and the U.S. with 5% are the only other substantial producers of palladium.

ETFS Physical Palladium Shares (NYSE: PALL) is a simple, cost-efficient and secure way to access the equivalent returns of palladium bullion spot prices, less fees - inception date January 8, 2010. Or search to discover hundreds of small-cap platinum, palladium and other PGM resource stocks, or non-resource stocks at's Small Cap Directory.

More at: wikipedia

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