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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook: Metals and minerals 1978-79
Year 1978-79, Volume 1 (1978-1979)

Jolly, James
Platinum-group metals,   pp. 699-712 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 699

  699Platinum-Group Metals 
By James Jolly' 
World production of platinum-group metals in 1979 was estimated at 6.66 million
troy ounces, 5% higher than production in 1977 and 1978. The U.S.S.R. and
the Republic of South Africa each produced about 48% of the world output
in 1979 and together accounted for about 96% of the total production. Canada
produced about 3%, and other countries, including the United States, about
1%. Canadian production, which normally accounts for 5% to 7% of world output,
was lower in both 1978 and 1979 owing to cutbacks in nickel production in
1978 and to a long strike at the principal producers' operations. 
U.S. mine production, all derived as a byproduct of copper refining, was
higher in 1978-79 than in the previous 2-year period but output was insignificant
compared with domestic primary needs. Refinery output, produced almost entirely
from secondary materials and including both toll and nontoll metal, was 1.3
million troy ounces in 1978 and 1.4 million troy ounces in 1979. Imports
and exports and their values were 
at record levels in 1979. Platinum and palladium in approximately equal quantities
accounted for about 91% of total platinum-group metal imports. Sales of platinum-group
metals to industries set successive record highs in 1978 and 1979. In 1979
sales were almost 2.8 million troy ounces; the automobile industry purchased
38% followed by the electrical industry, 21%; the chemical industry, 13%;
and others, 28%. 
 Platinum prices continued to rise sharply in 1979, as they did in 1978,
owing to continuing tight supply, inflation, strong industrial demand, and
increased speculative interest, particularly after mid-1979. The high prices
reduced Japanese platinum consumption in the jewelry industry such that in
1979 world demand for platinum for jewelry purposes, general industrial applications,
and automotive catalysist uses, were about equal. In response to higher platinum
prices and anticipated demand, South African producers announced plans to
increase production and capacity. 
Table 1.—Salient platinum-group metals1 statistics 
(Troy ounces) 
1975 
1976 
1977 
1978 
1979 
United States: 
Mineproduction2                     Value                           
Refinery production: 
Newmetal                        
Secondary metal                   
Toll-refined metal                  
Total refined metal              
Exports (except manufactured goods)        
Imports for consumption                 
Stocks Dec. 31: Refiner, importer, dealer — — —
- 
Consumption (sales)                    
World: Production                        
18,920 
$2,280,200 
6,116 
$464,527 
5,545 
$396,649 
8,246 
$759,925 
7,300 
$1,288,155 
16,571 
270,101 
1,175,468 
7,101 
215,355 
869,664 
5,199 
195,219 
1,005,023 
8,303 
257,191 
1,023,314 
8,868 
309,022 
1,090,202 
1,462,140 
659,885 
1,820,284 
849,210 
1,308,717 
5,713,660 
1,092,120 
512,407 
2,667,059 
1,085,703 
1,603,077 
T5 978 364 
1,205,441 
426,631 
2,510,374 
1,012,812 
1,592,277 
6,310,377 
1,288,808 
702,547 
2,921,411 
861,411 
2,259,558 
6,332,206 
1,408,092 
899,598 
3,479,128 
761,282 
2,756,021 
6,659,520 
TRevised. 
' The platinum group comprises six metals: Platinum, palladium, iridium,
osmium, rhodium, and ruthenium. ' Recovered from platinum placers midas byproducts
of copper refming. 


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