Platinum group metals (PGMs) is a family of metals which includes platinum, rhodium, osmium, ruthenium, palladium and iridium. Properties such as high melting point make them high temperature resistant and corrosion resistant. End use industrial applications of platinum group metals include their use in the catalysis of petroleum processing, production of nitric acid, flat panel monitors, manufacturing of medical tools such as pacemakers and stain for DNA fingerprints, automobiles, glass fiber, hard drives, nylon razors and others. Platinum metals posses’ high aesthetic features which makes them valuable jewelry item.
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Growing demand and production of automobiles is expected to drive the market in developing countries of Asia Pacific region. Changing lifestyle and rising disposable income is driving the automobile market in this region. Owing to properties such as stability, conductivity and durability; electronic and safety systems of automobiles uses PGMs to improve the vehicle efficiency. PGMs are used as a catalyst in fuel cells and catalytic converters which makes the vehicle eco friendly. Further, stringent standards for emissions of diesel vehicles is expected to drive the market as auto-catalysts are used to control emissions. In addition, rising demand for platinum metal based jewelry from developing countries is expected to drive PGMs market.
Huge gap between supply and demand of the platinum group metals is expected to hamper the market growth. The demand for these metals is growing owing to increasing number of applications but the supply is limited. Technological advances in the field of nanotechnology have resulted in development of fine tuned nanoparticles of cheaper metals, which are expected to replace some of PGMs from their applications. For instance, nanoparticles of nickel are replacing PGMs in industries such as automotive and other industrial applications. Rising demand for fuel cells and strict government regulations regarding carbon emissions are expected to provide opportunities for the players in the near future. Due to technological advances in nuclear chemistry field nuclear reactor based production of ruthenium, rhodium and palladium is possible which is expected to increase the supply of PGMs. Recovery of PGMs from mine waste and recycled materials is expected to improve the supply owing to acceptance of new technologies.
Asia Pacific region is expected to grow at higher rate owing to changing life style of growing population and increase in disposable income. The demand in this region is mainly due to rising automobile industry and growing consumer group preference for white metal jewelry items. Africa region was the largest producer of the platinum group metals but due to labor disruptions and safety issues; mining of these metals has been stopped and some of the marginal mines have closed, which is affecting the global supply. Europe followed the Asia Pacific region in consumption. Stringent government regulations regarding carbon emissions of diesel vehicles are expected to drive the market in this region.
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Some of the key players in this market include Stillwater Mining Co., Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Impala Platinum Holding Ltd., Lonmin plc., JSC MMC Norilsk Nickel, Eastern Platinum Ltd., Glencore Xstrata plc, North American Palladium Ltd., African Rainbow Minerals Ltd. and among others.