is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust – roughly 30 times scarcer than gold.
• The name
platinum is derived from the Spanish term platina,
which is literally translated into "little silver".
• It was used by pre-Columbian Americans to produce artefacts
of a white gold-platinum alloy.
• But Spanish
conquistadors thought it was a nuisance, being difficult to separate from gold nuggets.
• In the 1920s, two
platinum deposits each of around 100 kilometres in length were discovered in the
South Africa has 80% of the world's
• Ten tons
of ore requiring six months
of mining are needed to produce a single ounce of platinum.
has been used as a catalyst
since the early 19th century. These days half of world demand is for use in autocatalysts, where it destroys pollutants in vehicle exhaust fumes.
• In the 1980s, rising
prices prompted the
introduction of a variety of bars and coins to meet demand for platinum as a physical investment product.
Australian Platypus is a limited 1oz platinum bullion coin made by
The Perth Mint for investors.
• First and foremost
an industrial metal, however, platinum prices are vulnerable during economic recession.
supplies are at greater political and geological risk compared to other precious metals as production is largely restricted to a handful of mines.
• The price
of platinum has risen nearly 20% in recent weeks on supply fears after labour unrest and violence halted
production in South Africa.