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Platinum: History Of A Metal On The Move

Topics [ Australian Platypus platinum bullion coin platinum prices ]


Platinum 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 Transvaal.

Today, South Africa has 80% of the world's platinum reserve.

Ten tons of ore requiring six months of mining are needed to produce a single ounce of platinum.

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.

The 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.

Also, 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 in recent weeks on supply fears after labour unrest and violence halted production in South Africa.

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