Platinum is one of the rarest metals in the world, with unique physical and catalytic properties. It is highly valued across a number of diverse demand segments, including key technologies that make it a critical mineral for the energy transition.
Due to its high melting point, density, ultra-stability and extreme non-corrosiveness, platinum is crucial to many industrial and manufacturing processes, yet it is also used to fabricate the finest jewellery in the world.
One of platinum’s most important uses is as a catalyst – the presence of even a small molecule can speed up chemical reactions, reducing process energy needs and improving yields. Platinum enabled the first-ever autocatalysts in the 1970s and to this day it remains a key component in vehicle emissions control, predominately in diesel autocatalysts in both light and heavy-duty vehicles and increasingly in gasoline engine vehicles where it has substituted for palladium.
Industrial demand for platinum has grown at twice the pace of global GDP since 2013. Glass, petrochemicals, silicones and sensors are all produced using platinum. It is present in the hard disk drives that enable the growth of cloud storage in the global computing industry. Fuel cell technology, which made the moon landings possible, uses a platinum catalyst to produce electricity from hydrogen, and is today finding increasing use in fuel cell electric vehicles. Platinum is regarded as a critical mineral that is essential for the energy transition due to its use in the proton exchange (PEM) technology within fuel cells, which is also key to PEM electrolysis in the production of green hydrogen.
Biocompatible and well tolerated by the body, platinum is used in numerous established medical treatments and is at the forefront of many new ones. For example, compounds made from platinum are used in the treatment of cancers.
Platinum investment demand is met by a range of investment products: physical bars and coins, physically-backed on-line bullion accounts and exchanged traded funds, and futures contracts. Platinum provides diversification benefits similar to gold when included in a portfolio, as well as being a hedge against currency fluctuations and a store of value. Also like gold, platinum is a hard asset that investors can turn to at times of increased risk.
A new infographic from the World Platinum Investment Council explains platinum’s diverse drivers of demand and its myriad uses.