Mining & Production

The six platinum group metals (PGMs) occur together in nature alongside nickel and copper. Mineable deposits of PGMs are very rare, with annual production amounting to around 400 tonnes, several orders of magnitude lower than many common metals. Due to their economic values and higher quantities, platinum and palladium are the most important metals of the PGMs. The other four, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium, are mined as by-products of platinum and palladium. It is a capital and labour intensive industry. Companies are investing heavily in exploration and production facilities to ensure the future supply of these vital metals.

Primary and secondary production of PGMs are complementary and mutually dependent: Secondary production enables growing demand for PGMs to be met without excessively increasing primary production. The PGM industry itself repeatedly recycles PGMs from their applications with recovery efficiencies of up to 95%. It collaborates with other stakeholders to increase recycling rates.

PGMs are produced and processed by IPA Members in an environmentally responsible manner and in accordance with strict regulations.

Key Facts:

  • Primary and secondary production of PGMs is complementary and mutually-dependent; both are required to meet the growing global demand for this indispensable group of metals.
  • As a result of the high production costs PGMs are expensive, thus resulting in a highly economical and responsible usage.
  • Secondary production saves energy and minimizes the overall environmental impact of the PGM supply.
  • The PGM industry routinely recycles PGMs from their applications.
  • The energy efficiency of our metals reduces waste of resources; their high recyclability means less impact on the environment in comparison to other materials which may be discarded or are less easy to recycle.
  • Using state-of-the-art recycling technologies, over 95% of the PGM content of spent automotive catalysts (and other PGM-containing materials) can be repeatedly recovered.