Platinum is a dense, malleable, highly unreactive gray-white precious metal. It is also considered a noble metal due to its remarkable resistance to corrosion. Platinum is one of the rarest metals. About 97% of the world's total platinum comes from one of five countries: the United States, Canada, Zimbabwe, Russia and South Africa. Platinum is found deep underground, mostly in nuggets or grains and is usually alloyed with other metals. Platinum was earlier extracted using the narrow reef method, which involves drilling holes and then loading explosives into them. However, now newer hybrid mining methods are being used which involves drilling holes and then cleaning the ore using load-haul-dump machines. After mining, the platinum needs to be cleaned to remove traces of other metals. This process is about five times harder than gold cleaning.
The Top Five
5. United States (3,650 kg, 2.26% of world's platinum)
The United States is the fifth largest producer of platinum in the world, despite only having one mining company that mines platinum. The Stillwater Mining Company is the only producer of platinum in America. It has two mines from where the platinum is derived. These are the Stillwater Mine, located in Nye, Montana, and the East Boulder Mine, which is located by Big Timber, Montana.
4. Canada (7,200 kg, 4.47% of world's platinum)
Canada is the fourth largest platinum producer in the world. Platinum was first discovered in Canada's Ontario province in 1888. The majority of Canada's platinum supply comes from the Sudbury Basin in Central Ontario. Most of the rest of Canada's platinum comes from the Raglan nickel mine in Manitoba, Quebec, and the Lac des lles mine in Western Ontario.
3. Zimbabwe (11,000 kg, 6.83% of world's platinum)
Zimbabwe is the third largest platinum producer in the world. Zimbabwe has three major platinum mines located in a geological feature that runs through the center of Zimbabwe called the Great Dyke. These mines are the Mimosa operation in the southern part of the Great Dyke, it is the oldest platinum mine in the country, starting briefly in the 1920s, then again operating from 1966 to 75 and then since 1994. The Zimplants mine started in the early 1990s, while the Unki mine was commissioned in 2010.
2. Russia (25,000 kg, 15.52% of world's platinum)
Russia is the second largest platinum producer in the world, producing as much as every other country in the world, besides South Africa. Platinum was first discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains in 1823 and have been mined ever since. Platinum from the Urals started to decline in the 1920s but in 1935 platinum-containing cooper-nickel deposits were found on the Taimyr Peninsula in Siberia. Since then various mines in the region have come and gone but this area remains the most important for Russia's platinum reserves.
1. South Africa (110,000 kg, 68.32% of world's platinum)
South Africa is the world's largest platinum producer, producing more than twice as much as every other country on Earth combined. South Africa has three major platinum bearing areas, the Merensky Reef, the Upper Group 2 (UG2) Reef and the Platreef. The Merensky Reef, the major platinum source, was first used for platinum mining in 1925 until the close of the 20th century. The UG2 Reef opened in the 1970s and from then on became the major source of platinum in South Africa, accounting for over a majority of the platinum mined in the country. The Platreef was not mined on a large scale until 1993 and is the third largest platinum mine in the country. Mining in the country has taken a hit in recent years due to labor strikes, protests, safety concerns and scandal involving the mining companies.
The Uses And Attraction Of Platinum
Platinum is used in many objects and devices including laboratory equipment, electrical contacts, dentistry equipment, computer hard disks, turbine blades and more. Platinum is probably best known for being extensively used in jewelry, but its primary use is in catalytic converters for diesel engines in vehicles which account for around half of its demand. Platinum is seen as a metal of exclusivity and wealth because like its counterpart gold it is a very rare, expensive precious metal that is heavily used in jewelry and can only be acquired by the very wealthy. It has also been used by royalty, like King Louis XV of France and Queen Elizabeth, since its discovery by Europeans adding to this notion.