Platinum has become a very popular precious metal in recent years. It is a silver-white coloured metal which is much rarer than gold. It is used in a variety of ways, both industrial and for decoration. However, its rarity lends itself well to investments. There are really only five countries responsible for the world’s supply of platinum, South Africa, Russia, Zimbabwe, Canada and the United States.
How is Platinum Mined?
Platinum tends to be alloyed with other metals and is found deep underground in the form of nuggets or grains. When it first started being extracted, a method called the narrow reef method would have been used. Holes would have been bored and explosives added. Methods have moved on since then and nowadays a more hybrid mining method is used. Holes are still drilled but the ore is removed using machines that load haul and dump the raw material. Mining the platinum is the easy part. Once it has been mined from the ground, the nuggets or grain need to be cleaned and all the other metals removed.
Where is Platinum Mined?
Five countries are responsible for 97% of the world’s platinum mining. Let’s start with the biggest producer and work backwards from there.
This country is the world’s largest platinum producer. There are three main areas where this precious metal is produced. The Merensky Reef, The Upper Group 2 Reef and the Platreef. There have been a few problems in recent years that have had an impact on the countries mining success. Namely, labour strikes, protests, concerns about safety and various other scandals.
It was in the Ural Mountains that platinum was first discovered, in 1823. Mining has taken place there ever since.
There are three major mines in Zimbabwe. All of which are located along a geological feature that runs across the centre of the country. It is known as the Great Dyke and mining has been taking place here since the 1920s.
First discoveries of this metal in Canada were made in 1888. Most of the country;s supply comes from the Sudbury Basin in Central Canada.
There is only one mining company that is operational in the US, but it still manages to produce 2.26% of the world’s platinum.
Platinum is used for a variety of things, not just for rings and other types of jewellery. Laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, turbine blades, computer hard disks and many other objects and devices make use of this attractive metal. However, the major use is in catalytic converters used in diesel engines. It is also becoming very popular for those interested in investing in precious metals. If you want to know more about this type of investment, Indigo Precious Metals can help.