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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

  • Canada produced almost 1 million troy ounces of PGMs concentrate in 2019.
  • The United States accounted for over 76% of Canada's exports of PGMs for 2019.
  • Recycling of materials made with PGMs accounts for more than 30% of the global supply.

Learn more about platinum group metals

Uses

There are many different uses for PGMs in everyday items.

PGMs have strong catalytic properties – meaning they can accelerate or trigger a chemical process without themselves being permanently changed or consumed. Manufacturing of catalytic converters for use in exhaust systems in internal combustion vehicles represents the largest use of these metals. PGMs in exhaust systems help reduce vehicle pollution and contribute to better air quality and cleaner cities. PGMs are also used as catalysts in medical equipment, petroleum refining, glass manufacturing and many other applications.

As attractive and durable precious metals, they are also used in jewellery.

Additionally, investors interested in precious metals occasionally turn to PGMs as an option.

Platinum group metals, global uses, 2019

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This pie chart shows the major industrial uses of PGMs in 2019. The largest use was for autocatalysts (59%) followed by jewellery (11%), chemicals (8%), electrical (7%), medical (3%), glass (2%), petroleum (1%), investment (5%) and other uses (5%).

Production

Canadian mines shipped almost 1 million troy ounces of PGMs in 2019. The majority of the production occurred in Ontario (75%), with the remainder coming from Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Manitoba.

Canada has one dedicated PGM mine located in western Ontario near Thunder Bay. However, PGMs are also recovered as co-products at many Canadian primary nickel mines.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2010–2019 (p)

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This bar graph shows Canada's annual mine production of PGMs from 2010 to 2019. Production was at a 10-year low of 309,000 troy ounces in 2010. Production then increased towards a peak of 1.1 million troy ounces in 2014 before declining to 903,000 troy ounces in 2017 and 907,000 troy ounces in 2018. Production in 2019 was 982,000 troy ounces.

Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2019 (p)

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This pie chart shows Canada's mine production of PGMs in percent by element in 2019: palladium (69%), platinum (26%), ruthenium (2%), iridium (1%) and rhodium (2%).

International context

Canada is the third-largest producer of mined PGMs in the world, accounting for 7.1% of production. An estimated 19.8 million troy ounces of PGMs were supplied from mined and recycled sources in 2019.

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

World mine production of platinum group metals, by country, 2019 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's estimated production in thousands of troy ounces of platinum, palladium and rhodium, by country, in 2019. The leading producer was South Africa (platinum, 4,398,000 oz.; palladium, 2,626,000 oz.; rhodium, 624,000 oz.), followed by Russia (platinum, 721,000 oz.; palladium, 2,987,000 oz.; rhodium, 68,000 oz.), Canada (platinum, 261,000 oz.; palladium, 705,000 oz.; rhodium, 23,000 oz.), Zimbabwe (platinum, 451,000 oz.; palladium, 379,000 oz.; rhodium, 43,000 oz.) and other countries (platinum, 222,000 oz.; palladium, 381,000 oz.; rhodium, 5,000 oz.).

World production of platinum group metals, including recycling, 2010–2019 (p)

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This bar graph shows the world's annual production of PGMs from 2010 to 2019 (preliminary) broken down among platinum, palladium and rhodium. Production was 18.1 million troy ounces in 2010 and reached a peak of 19.8 million troy ounces in 2019. Production was at a low of 17.0 million troy ounces in 2014.

In 2019, estimates of the total proven world reserves of PGMs were 69,310 tonnes and are located mostly in South Africa.

World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2019 (p)
Ranking Country Tonnes Percentage of total
1 South Africa 63,000 90.9%
2 Russia 3,900 5.6%
3 Zimbabwe 1,200 1.7%
4 United States 900 1.3%
5 Canada 310 0.4%
- Other countries N/A N/A
Total 69,310 100.0%

Trade

Canada traded in PGMs and PGM-related products with more than 73 countries in 2019.

Exports

Total exports of PGMs and PGM-related products from Canada were valued at $1.65 billion in 2019, with products destined for the United States accounting for over 76% of total PGMs exports.

Imports

Imports of PGMs and PGM-related products, from a variety of countries, were valued at $1 billion in 2019. The majority of imports came from the United States (25%), South Africa (29%), Russia (13%)and Belgium (11%). These four countries accounted for almost 80% of Canadian PGMs imports.

Prices

Platinum prices experienced a moderate increase through 2019, finishing the year at a low of US$971 per troy ounce in December compared to US$821 per troy ounce at the beginning of the year. Prices at the end of 2018 were US$797 in December of that year.

Platinum, monthly average prices, 2010–2019

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of platinum from 2010 to 2019. The average annual price of platinum was $1,612 per troy ounce in 2010. Prices fluctuated between 2010 and 2019, but experienced an overall decrease in that time. In 2019, the average annual price was $880 per troy ounce of platinum.

Palladium prices also experienced an overall increase through 2019. Prices started at US$1,380 per troy ounce in January and finished the year at a high of US$1,920per troy ounce in December 2019. This 2019 price may be compared to the average monthly price for 2010 of US$526. Many market analysts attribute the continuing rise in palladium prices to increasingly stringent vehicle emissions standards and tests because autocatalysts (manufacturing of catalytic converters) accounted for 84% of global demand for palladium.

Palladium, prices, monthly average, 2010–2019

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This line graph shows the monthly average price in US dollars per troy ounce of palladium from 2010 to 2019. The average annual price of palladium was $526 per troy ounce in 2010. Prices were relatively stable, but experienced some fluctuation from 2010 to 2016. The average monthly price for 2016 was $611. Prices began an overall increasing trend after 2016 with average monthly prices of $869 in 2017, $1,036 in 2018 and $1,572 in 2019.

Recycling

Mining accounts for approximately 70% of the world's PGMs supply while around 30% comes from the recycling of products such as autocatalytic converters, old jewellery and electrical scrap.

World supply of platinum group metals, by source, 2019 (p)

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This pie chart shows the world supply of platinum group metals as percentage by source in 2019. The largest source was mine production (70%), followed by recycling sources including autocatalyst scrap (24%), old jewellery scrap (3%) and electrical scrap (3%). Recycled sources together accounted for 30% of production.

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, 2019
    • Johnson Matthey

Production

  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, 2010–2019 (p)
    • Natural Resources Canada
  • Canadian mine production of platinum group metals, by element, 2019 (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, 2019 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey; Natural Resources Canada
  • World production of platinum group metals, 2010–2019 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey
  • World reserves of platinum group metals, by country, 2019 (p)
    • U.S. Geological Survey

Prices

  • Platinum, morning prices, monthly average, 2010–2019
    • London Metal Exchange
  • Palladium, morning prices, monthly average, 2010–2019
    • 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, 2019 (p)
    • Johnson Matthey
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