The platinum group metals consist of platinum, ruthenium, palladium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium categorized based on commonalities found in their physical and chemical properties. The most popular use known by many is in catalytic converters that are exhaust emission control devices used in cars to split the harmless and harmful molecules as a way to ensure the gases released into the air are safe for the environment.
However, that is not the extent of Platinum Group Metals use. They are widely used in the medical industry to produce a range of devices especially those essential for patients suffering from heart diseases who require stents, pacemakers etc, and also hip and knee replacements, certain cancer treatments, and hearing assist devices.
More than 80% of palladium is used in the production of catalytic converters. It is also used, though to a lesser extent, in electronics and jewellery. Rhodium more or less serves the same purpose as palladium with the addition of being used in electrical contacts. Apart from this, electrodes for aircraft, oxygen sensors, and spark plugs. On the other hand, high-purity crystals are made from iridium that has applications in the medical, petroleum, and security industries.
According to the World Platinum Investment Council (WPIC), the platinum supply deficit will decrease following fewer obstructions to mining due to COVID-19 restrictions that adversely affected the output in 2020. Similarly, because of the coronavirus pandemic, in 2020 the demand for platinum was estimated to be about 5% less than in 2019 owing to decreased demand for jewellery (-274,000 oz), industrial categories (-79,000 oz), and automotive (-464,000 oz).
In March 2020, platinum reaches decades low prices partially due to the global pandemic. But a steady rise was observed in the third quarter of the year as the lockdown restrictions started to tone down- a WPIC report stated that output started reaching pre-coronavirus levels alongside the supply rising by 48% while demand rose by 75% largely due to automotive demand. In the same quarter, July-September, a sharp rise was seen in global jewellery demand which increased by 27% quarter-on-quarter, of which 14% was underpinned by China. A "Singles' Day" occasion was held by China in November 2020 which saw record-breaking sales of US$74 billion, practically twofold that of 2019. Repressed demand brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic limitations on social gatherings is partially what set this off. China represented 45% of all platinum jewellery demand in 2021.
As of February 2021, platinum prices are witnessing a six-year high at about $1,281.40 an ounce. This surge is linked to improved industrial demands and increased interest from investors. The prices have been observed to have increased by around 16% thus far this year. Additionally, It is expected to rise further as economic activity resumes further every day with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Thus, it is clear that the use of PGMs in numerous domains pushes it to remain relevant at all times.