Platinum facts

The platinum group metals (PGMs) are six metallic elements that have similar physical and chemical properties and that tend to occur together in the same mineral deposits. They are:

  • platinum
  • palladium
  • rhodium
  • ruthenium
  • osmium
  • iridium

Key facts

  • In 2017, Canada was the third largest producer of mined PGMs
  • The United States accounted for close to 70% of Canada's exports of PGMs in 2017
  • Recycling of materials made with PGMs accounts for more than 28% of the global supply

Learn more about platinum

Uses

There are many different uses for PGMs in everyday items. The manufacture of catalytic converters (used in exhaust systems in vehicles) represents the largest use of PGMs. They are also important components of jewellery, chemicals, glass, medical equipment and dental applications.

Financial investors interested in acquiring precious metals as part of their portfolios often turn to PGMs as an option for investing.

Platinum group metals, global uses, 2017

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This circular chart shows the major industrial uses of PGMs as of 2017. The largest use was for autocatalysts (61%), followed by jewellery (12%), electrical (9%), chemicals (8%), medical (3%), glass (2%), petroleum (1%), investment (less than 1%) and other uses (4%).

Production

In 2016, Canada mined an estimated 903,000 troy ounces of PGMs in concentrate. While Canada does not refine PGMs domestically, the metals are recovered from eight operating mines located in four Canadian provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows Canada's annual mine production of PGMs from 2008 to 2017. Production was estimated at 732,000 troy ounces in 2008 and 903,000 troy ounces in 2017.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2017 (p)

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This circular chart shows Canada's mine production of PGMs by element in percentages in 2017: palladium (70%); platinum (28%); ruthenium (2%); iridium (1%); and rhodium (less than 1%).

International context

An estimated 18.4 million troy ounces of PGMs were supplied from mined and recycled sources in 2017.

Find out more about mined PGMs production on an international scale:

World mine production of platinum group metals, by country, 2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's estimated production in millions of troy ounces of platinum, palladium and rhodium, by country, in 2017. The leading producer was South Africa (platinum, 4.5; palladium, 2.6; rhodium, 0.6), followed by Russia (platinum, 0.7; palladium, 2.4; rhodium, 0.07), Canada (platinum, 0.3; palladium, 0.6; rhodium, 0.002), Zimbabwe (platinum, 0.5; palladium, 0.4; rhodium, 0.04) and other countries (platinum, 0.2; palladium, 0.4; rhodium, 0.01).

World production of platinum group metals, 2008–2017 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's annual production of PGMs from 2008 to 2017. Production was 16.9 million troy ounces in 2008 and 18.4 million troy ounces in 2017.

In 2017, estimates of the total world reserves were 69,000 tonnes.

World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2017 (p)
Ranking Country Tonnes Percentage of total
1 South Africa 63,000 91.3%
2 Russia 3,900 5.7%
3 Zimbabwe 1,200 1.7%
4 United States 900 1.3%
5 Canada 310 0.4%
- Other countries N/A N/A
Total 69,000 100.0%

Trade

Canada traded in PGMs and PGM-related products with close to 70 countries in 2017.

Exports

Total exports of PGMs and PGM-related products from Canada were valued at $0.9 billion in 2017, with products destined for the United States accounting for close to 70% of total exports.

Imports

Imports of PGMs and PGM-related products, from a variety of countries, were valued at $511 million in 2017. More than 90% originated from the United States (36%), followed by South Africa (22%), Russia (12%), United Kingdom (10%), Switzerland (9%) and Belgium (3%).

Prices

Platinum prices varied throughout 2017, starting at US$970 per troy ounce in January and reaching a high of US$1,006 per troy ounce in February, before falling back to US$909 per troy ounce in December.

Platinum, morning prices, monthly average, 2008–2017

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of platinum from 2008 to 2017. The average annual price of platinum was $1,580 per troy ounce in 2008. In 2017, the average annual price was $949 per troy ounce of platinum, and the monthly prices were as follows: January, $971; February, $1,006; March, $964; April, $961; May, $930; June, $933; July, $917; August, $972; September, $969; October, $922; November, $933; and December, $909.

Palladium prices varied in 2017, starting at US$746 per troy ounce in January and rising to a high of US$1020 per troy ounce in December.

Palladium, morning prices, monthly average, 2008–2017

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of palladium from 2008 to 2017. The average annual price of palladium was $353 per troy ounce in 2008. In 2017, the average annual price of palladium was $869, and the monthly prices were as follows: January, $746; February, $772; March, $775; April, $799; May, $793; June, $863; July, $856; August, $910; September, $937; October, $957; November, $996; and December, $1020.

Recycling

Mining accounts for close to 72% of the world's PGMs supply, while slightly more than 28% comes from the recycling of products, such as auto catalytic converters, old jewellery and electrical scrap.

World supply of platinum group metals, by source, 2017 (p)

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This circular chart shows the world supply of platinum group metals by source in 2017. The largest source was mine production (72%), followed by recycling sources, including autocatalyst scrap (22%), old jewellery scrap (3%) and electrical scrap (3%).

Notes and sources

(p) preliminary

Totals may be different because of rounding.

All dollars are Canadian unless otherwise indicated.

Uses

  • Platinum group metals, global uses, 2017
    • Johnson Matthey

Production

  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2017 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
    • Canada’s mine statistics include ruthenium and iridium, but not osmium.

International context

  • World mine production of platinum group metals, by country, 2017 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey; Natural Resources Canada
  • World production of platinum group metals, 2008–2017 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey
  • World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2017 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey

Prices

  • Platinum, morning prices, monthly average, 2008–2017
    • London Metal Exchange
  • Palladium, morning prices, monthly average, 2008–2017
    • London Metal Exchange

Recycling

  • World supply of platinum group metals, by source, 2017 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey