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 2018, Canada produced around 996,000 troy ounces of PGMs concentrate
  • The United States accounted for over 80% of Canada's exports of PGMs in 2018
  • 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 for use in exhaust systems in internal combustion vehicles represents the largest use of these metals. 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, 2018

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This circular chart shows the major industrial uses of PGMs as of 2018. The largest use was for autocatalysts (60%), followed by jewellery (12%), electrical (8%), chemicals (8%), medical (3%), glass (2%), petroleum (1%), investment (less than 1%) and other uses (4%).

Production

In 2018, Canada mined an estimated 996,000 troy ounces of PGMs in concentrate. While Canada does not refine PGMs domestically, the metals are recovered from other metal mining operations located in four Canadian provinces: Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2009–2018 (p)

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This bar graph shows Canada's annual mine production of PGMs from 2009 to 2018. Production was estimated at 351,200 troy ounces in 2009 and 996,000 troy ounces in 2018.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2018 (p)

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This circular chart shows Canada's mine production of PGMs by element in percentages in 2018: palladium (70%); platinum (25%); ruthenium (2%); iridium (1%); and rhodium (1%). Totals may not sum to 100 percent due to rounding.

International context

An estimated 19.5 million troy ounces of PGMs were supplied from mined and recycled sources in 2018.

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

World mine production of platinum group metals, by country, 2018 (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 2018. The leading producer was South Africa (platinum, 4.5; palladium, 2.6; rhodium, 0.6), followed by Russia (platinum, 0.7; palladium, 2.8; rhodium, 0.07), Canada (platinum, 0.25; palladium, 0.7; rhodium, 0.002), Zimbabwe (platinum, 0.5; palladium, 0.4; rhodium, 0.04) and other countries (platinum, 0.25; palladium, 0.4; rhodium, 0.005).

World production of platinum group metals, 2009–2018 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's annual production of PGMs from 2009 to 2018. Production was 15.9 million troy ounces in 2009 and 19.5 million troy ounces in 2018.

In 2018, estimates of the total world reserves were 69,000 tonnes.

World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2018 (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 more than 70 countries in 2018.

Exports

Total exports of PGMs and PGM-related products from Canada were valued at $1.2 billion in 2018, with products destined for the United States accounting for over 80 percent of total PGM exports.

Imports

Imports of PGMs and PGM-related products, from a variety of countries, were valued at $694 million in 2018. The majority of imports came from the United States (30%), South Africa (26%), Russia (12%), Germany (7%), Switzerland (6%), United Kingdom (5%), and Belgium (5%).

Prices

Platinum prices generally declined throughout 2018, starting at US$991 per troy ounce in January and finishing the year at a low of US$797 per troy ounce in December.

Platinum, monthly average prices, 2009–2018

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of platinum from 2009 to 2018. The average annual price of platinum was $1,448 per troy ounce in 2009. In 2018, the average annual price was $874 per troy ounce of platinum, and the monthly prices were as follows: January, $991; February, $995; March, $960; April, $929; May, $908; June, $890; July, $835; August, $809; September, $808; October, $833; November, $851; and December, $797.

Palladium prices varied in 2018 as well, starting at US$1101 per troy ounce in January, reaching a year low of $923 per troy ounce in August and finishing the year strongly at a high of US$1,252 per troy ounce in December.

Palladium, prices, monthly average, 2009–2018

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of palladium from 2009 to 2018. The average annual price of palladium was $264 per troy ounce in 2008. In 2018, the average annual price of palladium was $1,036, and the monthly prices were as follows: January, $1,101; February, $1,027; March, $993; April, $975; May, $984; June, $991; July, $936; August, $924; September, $1,017; October, $1,089; November, $1,145; and December, $1,253.

Recycling

Mining accounts for approximately 71% of the world's PGMs supply, while slightly less than 29% comes from the recycling of products, such as auto catalytic converters, old jewellery and electrical scrap.

World supply of platinum group metals, by source, 2018 (p)

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This circular chart shows the world supply of platinum group metals by source in 2018. The largest source was mine production (71%), followed by recycling sources, including autocatalyst scrap (22%), old jewellery scrap (4%) 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, 2018
    • Johnson Matthey

Production

  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2009–2018 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2018 (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, 2018 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey; Natural Resources Canada
  • World production of platinum group metals, 2009–2018 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey
  • World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2018 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey

Prices

  • Platinum, morning prices, monthly average, 2009–2018
    • London Metal Exchange
  • Palladium, morning prices, monthly average, 2009–2018
    • London Metal Exchange

Trade

  • Natural Resources Canada; Statistics Canada
  • Mineral trade includes ores, concentrates, and semi- and final-fabricated mineral products

Recycling

  • World supply of platinum group metals, by source, 2018 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey