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Platinum

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Platinum is one of the earth’s rarest elements. Its high melting point means that platinum is widely used for industrial purposes, including oil refining and aircraft production.

Platinum: valuable and rare
Platinum is predominantly mined in South Africa and Russia. The mining cost of platinum is lower than that of gold because many platinum cores can be found just below the surface of the earth. Platinum has a very bright gray-white color which makes it an attractive metal for the production of jewellery.

One of the advantages of platinum mining is the significant harvest of its by-products: other rare precious metals such as palladium, rhodium, ruthenium and nickel.
Platinum itself is a very rare precious metal. It is in fact much rarer than gold. To give a more exact idea of its rarity it is safe to say that the total of all platinum mined to date would fit into an average living room! The fact that it is so scarce and its many industrial uses makes platinum the most expensive and most precious of all precious metals.

The history of platinum
Although platinum is now considered the most valuable precious metal around today, this was not always the case. When it was discovered by the Spanish conquistadors in the 17th century during the gold rush in Colombia, platinum was thrown back into the river, because they considered it worthless. Its name is also derived from the Spanish 'platinum del Pinto ", which literally means "the little silver of the River Pinto."

Unlike gold and silver, which can be easily isolated in a relatively pure state, platinum requires a highly complex chemical processing. Because these techniques were not available until the early 19th century, the identification and extraction of platinum is thousands of years behind that of silver and gold. Platinum’s high melting point limited its applications for a long time until researchers from Britain, France, Germany and Russia came across useful applications for the metal.

The application of platinum in jewelry began around 1900, but this was quickly overtaken by its industrial use. Due to its durability and high reliability and because of its resistance to erosion and heat, platinum was used to manufacture spark plugs for fighter planes during World War II.

Multifunctional metal
It is estimated that 1/5 of all manmade we use either contains platinum, or that platinum has been used in the manufacture thereof. Of all known modern applications of platinum, the majority of platinum’s annual production is split between two dominant categories: catalysts and jewellery. Together, these two applications consume more than 70% of the global platinum supply.

Platinum is predominantly known for its use in the catalyst which is part of a car’s exhaust system. Instead of lethal carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide, a catalyst converts these harmful substances into harmless carbon dioxide and water.

Platinum catalysts are also used in oil refineries. Platinum catalysts play a crucial role in the extraction of gasoline from crude oil. It is also used in electronic circuits and high-tech laboratory equipment, LCD screens and hard drives. Platinum strengthens the magnetic alloy which means that data can be stored at much higher densities.

Platinum: supply and demand
Demand for platinum is growing while supply lags behind. Buying platinum in the form of bars or coins are a good way to invest in a truly exclusive and rare precious metal. All platinum bars sold are produced by a London Platinum and Palladium Market (LPPM) accredited manufacturer. Platinum coins such as the Maple Leaf are produced by Canada's Royal Canadian Mint and Platinum Koalas by Australia's Perth Mint.