Introduction

Platinum is a precious metal that, when pure, has a white-opaque gray colour. It has low ductility and high ductility. This metal is resistant to corrosion and dissolves in most acids. These properties qualify platinum as the main transition metal and  a vital element for the industry.

In nature, platinum can be found alone (as rounded or flattened grains, so-called platinum nuggets) in its native form or associated with other metals such as titanium, osmium, iridium, palladium and rhodium.

The commodity is mainly used in the manufacture of electrodes, as raw material for jewelry and various applications in medicine. This element is also widely used as a catalyst in chemical reactions. The jewelry industry accounts for 51% of total demand for this commodity. It is used extensively in the computing and electronics industry, as platinum is an excellent conductor of electricity, which does not corrode and has low reactivity with other metals.

Mostly found in the sands of rivers and East German deposits. The biggest platinum world reserves are in Russia (rivers of the Urals), South Africa (Transvaal), Colombia (Atrato and San Juan rivers), Canada, Sumatra and Borneo. To a lesser extent, this commodity is found in the United States (California) and Brazil (Minas Gerais). The producers are Portugal and Bangladesh.

Platinum is one of the most scarce metals on earth. World production of this commodity is approximately 5 million annual Troys ounces. Because of its scarcity (low supply), platinum  is more valuable than gold or silver, although not so coveted (low demand).  Future platinum contracts  are traded mainly on  the New York Mercantile Exchange  (NYMEX) and on the  Tokyo Commodity Exchange  (TOCOM).

Characteristics

Platinum (the Spanish platinum, diminutive of plata, silver) has a chemical element symbol of Pt, atomic number 78 (78 protons and 78 electrons) and atomic mass of 195 u. It is a dense, malleable, ductile chemical element which has little reactivity. It is a transition metal. Its name derives comes from the Spanish term platinum, which its literal translation is "little silver".

It is found particularly in deposits of nickel and copper ores, mainly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of world production. Because of its scarcity in the earth's crust, which has produced only a few million tons, it is considered the most precious metal.

Platinum is a chemical element with low reactivity. It has an extraordinary corrosion resistance, even at high temperatures, and is also considered a noble metal.

History

The Andean people found platinum and used it as a substitute for silver. It was known by the Spanish in 1735, when the navigator, explorer and Spanish astronomer Antonio de Ulloa arrived in South America.

In 1741, it was taken to China. For several centuries it was used to forge gold, because of its similarity of density. Charles Wood, a metallurgist, found several samples of Colombian platinum in Jamaica, where he sent William Brownrigg for investigation. Antonio de Ulloa, also named as the discoverer of platinum, returned from Spain after the Geodesic Mission of France in 1746, serving an eight year journey. It is said that during this expedition, he described the platinum calcination process is irreplaceable, anticipating the findings of the platinum mines. After publishing this study in 1748, he stopped researching this new metal. In 1758, he was sent to superintend mercury mining operations in Huancavelica.

In 1786, Carlos III of Spain provided a library and a laboratory for Pierre-François Chabaneau to assist in their research on platinum. Chabaneau succeeded in removing various impurities in platinum ore, including gold, mercury, lead, copper and iron. He believed he was working with a simple metal, but trusted that the rock contained some unknown chemical element of PGMs. This led to inconsistent results in their experiments. At the time, he noted that platinum seemed pliable, but when mixed with iridium, it became much more fragile. Occasionally the material underwent a complete combustion, but when called with osmium, he noticed that it became a more volatile material. After a few months, he managed to produce 23 kilograms of pure, malleable platinum, by pounding and compressing by way of a sponge with rubrobranca colouring. Along with Joaquín Cabezas, he began to commercially produce ingots and platinum utensils. This started what is known as "Platinum Age" in Spain.

In 1824, it was found in large numbers in Russia (Urals), becoming commercialized.

In 2007, Gerhard Ertl won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for determining In detail the molecular mechanisms of carbon monoxide oxidation in a catalytic platinum converter.

Utilities

About 245 tons of platinum sold in 2010, 113 tons were used in exhaust emission control devices (46%), 76 tons for jewelry (31%). The rest, about 35.5 tons were used for various other minority applications, such as financial applications, electrodes, anti-cancer drugs,  lambda probes, spark plugs and turbines.

other applications

- Military Uniform, worn on the shoulder to communicate the patent.
- Employed in luxury guns finishing, especially for bezels and details in rifled barrels;
- Manufacture of surgical items such as nails, pipe and other tests;
- In prosthetic dentistry to implants and fixation drills;
- Used in the tips of spark plugs and the tips of lightning rods;
- Used for producing gloves that resist high temperatures;
- Implants in medicine, such as the IUD (Intra Uterine Device);
- Manufacture of musical, dental and electromagnetic instruments.
- In medicine in the fight against cancer, chemotherapy;
- Used in the ceramic industry as a decorative element in tiles.

Markets

Platinum futures contracts are traded mainly on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM).

 



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