Three of the most valuable metals in the world are so rare that they could become a factor in the difference between global technological dominance and military superiority on one hand, and the loss of superpower status on the other.
Yet, for all their critical importance, even the most powerful nations are struggling to secure a stable supply.
That’s because one of these metals is so rare that total historical production wouldn’t even cover your ankles in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
That metal is platinum.
This metal is as scarce as gold, representing .005 ppm (parts per million) of the earth’s crust. But it isn’t exploited at even close to the volume of gold.
In 2018, the world produced 860 million ounces of silver, 109 million ounces of gold, and only 6 million ounces of platinum.
That’s because it’s hard to get at. There’s no surface-mining of platinum, although South Africa does have one very small open-pit mine that provides some 8 percent of the world’s platinum production.
All the gold ever produced in the world would fill three Olympic-sized swimming pools, while platinum would barely cover your feet in one.
But while gold has few uses aside from aesthetics and a safe haven for traders, platinum is critical.
Platinum is so rare and valuable that during WWII, it was declared a strategic metal, and the U.S. government banned its use in jewelry.
Today, it’s even more strategic than it was during the Second World War – and not just for military applications, either.
Platinum is critical for everything from computers and catalytic converters to optical fibers – and crucially, it’s used by automakers to reduce harmful vehicle emissions.
Worldwide, estimates are that we have 69,000 metric tons of platinum reserves, and 95 percent of that is deep in the earth’s crust in South Africa. Miniscule amounts are to be found in Russia and North America, where it is mined as a by-product of nickel and palladium, respectively.
Frankly, I am amazed that people don’t want more of this metal.
But then again, we’ve seen this before with gold. People were quick to push it aside because it has no utility and that you can’t use it as a legal tender.
Those who believed are laughing their way to a comfortable retirement.
I see the same thing happening with platinum. Those who believe in it now are most likely going to laugh their way to the bank in time.
We aren’t financial advisors. We can’t tell you what to do with your investments but if you have questions about platinum, we’re here to help.