Platinum Bullion Guide
Platinum is a heavy, relatively malleable, ductile, grey-white metal and is a member of the platinum group of metals. It is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78 in the periodic table. Platinum has a very high melting point, is extremely resistant to corrosion and also an excellent electrical conductor.
While incredibly stable and not reactive by itself, it is excellent in promoting various chemical reactions as a catalyst. Platinum's role as a catalyst is also the primary reason that makes it such an important industrial metal.
Platinum is very rare, more rare than gold. All the platinum mined to date can fit in a typical living room. Its rarity, wear and tarnish resistant properties makes platinum the ideal choice for crafting fine jewelry.
Platinum's many important applications and together with the fact that the metal is extremely rare makes this noble metal the priciest and most valuable of all precious metals. Many people first come into contact with platinum when buying engagement and wedding rings.
History of Platinum
Platinum is the most valuable of all precious metals but it was not always so. When it was discovered by Spanish Conquistadors in the 17th century while panning for gold in the Choco region in what is now Columbia, platinum was considered a nuisance as it interfered with their mining operations. The word platinum comes from the Spanish word platina, meaning "little silver."
Due to its unique geological formations, platinum ore is unevenly distributed and concentrations are found only in a couple of places on Earth. As the platinum group metals are usually found together, platinum ores also contain significant amounts of other PGMs such as palladium and rhodium.
The proportions of platinum to palladium in platinum ores can differ significantly, depending on the location of the deposits. The ore in the Stillwater Complex contains a platinum to palladium ratio of 1:3. The South African platinum ores is considerably richer in platinum, having a ratio of platinum to palladium or approximately 2:1.
Traces of platinum can also be found in nickel ores and platinum is also produced as a by-product of nickel mining. Large quantities of platinum is produced in Russia as a result of extensive nickel mining activities in the country.
Approximately 80% of the world's platinum supply is produced in South Africa and 90% of that coming from the Western Bushveld region. The two main producing countries are South Africa and Russia. Leading mining companies are Anglo Platinum and Impala Platinum, with mines mainly in South Africa.