Platinum is the rarest of all precious metals. It has several unique chemical and physical properties that make it essential in a wide range of industrial and environmental applications. Platinum is also considered as one of the finest of all jewellery metals.
Platinum as a pure metal is silvery-white in appearance, lustrous, ductile, and malleable. It is widely used in several industrial applications as it possesses high resistance to chemical attack, excellent high-temperature characteristics, and stable electrical properties.
Platinum is corrosion resistant and is more precious than gold. Platinum's wear- and tarnish-resistance characteristics are well suited for making fine jewelry.
Platinum is traded as a commodity with prices determined by market forces. It is also a widely sought after investment avenue in recent years. However, it is not widely treated as a monetary base like gold
Global Supply Demand Scenario
The supply of platinum is met by mine production, auto catalyst refining and jewellery refining with their respective contribution estimated to be 6.15 million ounces, 1 million ounce and 0.9 million ounce in 2008.
The annual production of platinum has averaged around 6.2 million ounces (193 tonnes) in the previous three years from 2006 with more than 90% of the production coming from South Africa (76%) and Russia. The other producers are United States of America, Canada and Zimbabwe.
The production of platinum is highly dependent on South Africa's production with 2009 output from South Africa, Russia, USA and Zimbabwe estimated to be 4.7 million ouces, 0.74, 0.25 and 0.33 million ounces respectively.
The platinum mining industry is very capital intensive and it is reported that approximately 10 tonnes of raw ore has to be mined to produce just one pure ounce of platinum.
Unlike other precious metals like gold and silver, there are no large above-ground platinum stockpiles to protect against significant supply disruptions. Some estimates predict that existing above ground reserves would last only for a year, if platinum mining was suddenly stopped.
The demand for platinum mainly comes from auto catalyst, jewellery, other industrial application and investment. The other industries uses platinum are electronics, glass and petroleum industry.
The total global demand for this rare metal is reported to be around 7.79 million ounces in 2008, with consumption by auto catalyst (used in automobiles), jewellery, investment and other industrial applications estimated to be around 3.8, 1.6, 0.45 and 1.9 million ounces respectively.
North America, Europe, China and Japan are the most important economies accounting for majority of the global platinum consumption.
The London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM), which provides the industry benchmark price ‘London fix’
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