Global Exploration and Production Capacity for Platinum-Group Metals from 1995 Through 2015

Global Exploration and Production Capacity for Platinum-Group Metals from 1995 Through 2015

Platinum-group metals (PGMs) are required in a variety of commercial, industrial, and military applications for many existing and emerging technologies, yet the United States is highly dependent on foreign sources of PGMs. Information on global exploration for PGMs since 1995 has been used in this study as a basis for identifying locations where the industry has determined that exploration has provided data sufficient to warrant development of a new mine or expansion of an existing operation or where a significant increase in capacity for PGMs is anticipated by 2015. Discussions include an overview of the industry and the selected sites, factors affecting mineral supply, and circumstances leading to the development of mineral properties with the potential to affect mineral supply. Of the 52 sites or regional operations that were considered in this analysis, 16 sites were producing before 1995, 28 sites commenced production from 1995 through 2010, and 8 sites were expected to begin production from 2011 through 2015 if development plans came to fruition. The United States imports PGMs primarily from Canada, Russia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe to meet increasing demand for these materials in a variety of specialized and high-tech applications. Feed sources of PGMs are changing in South Africa and Russia, which together accounted for about 89 percent of platinum production and 82 percent of palladium production in 2009. A greater amount of South African PGM capacity is likely to come from deeper, higher cost Upper Group Reef seam 2 deposits and deposits in the Eastern Bushveld area. Future Russian PGM capacity is likely to come from ore zones with generally lower PGM content and different platinum-to-palladium ratios than the nickel-rich ore that dominated PGM supply in the 1990s. Because PGM supply from Canada and Russia is derived as a byproduct of copper and nickel mining, the PGM supply from these countries is influenced by economic, environmental, political, and tec

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