Is it time to take another look at Platinum? With all the talk about a trillion dollar Platinum coin as a solution for the US debt crisis Platinum has gained a lot of media attention and as a result sales of the metal for investment purposes are on the rise. 2013 could be the year for Platinum and for reasons you may not have yet considered. In reality the Platinum coin debate will have almost no direct effect on the supply of Platinum, a single coin could be made from one ounce 31.103g or according to the rules it doesn't even have to be an ounce nor even pure Platinum so 1g of Platinum could suffice. However it's the media attention that is causing people to re-look at Platinum as an investment option and the market may not be ready for this. Lets take a close look at the metal. WHAT IS IT? Platinum's chemical symbol is Pt and atomic number is 78 It has a melting point of 1,768 Degrees Centigrade (Gold = 1,063 Degrees Centigrade and Silver = 961.8 Degrees Centigrade) Density is 21,400kg/m3 (Gold = 19,320kg/m3 and Silver = 10,490kg/m3) So Platinum is both more dense than the other two precious metals and has a higher melting point Platinum is part of the PGM (Platinum Group Metals) The six PGMs are; ruthenium rhodium palladium osmium iridium platinum On a side note osmium is the rarest of the PGM and has a total annual production of only 80Kg per year and current spot price of only US$380 per ounce so you could buy the total annual production of osmium for only US$977,397.68. However you would have an element that had little to no practical use and is toxic when exposed to air. Sources; http://www.taxfreegold.co.uk/osmiumpricesusdollars.html http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/platinum/mcs-2012-plati.pdf ABUNDANCE? Silver is found in the earths crust at a rate of 0.075 ppm Gold is found in the earths crust at a rate of 0.004 ppm Platinum is found in the earths crust at a rate of 0.005 ppm ppm = (parts per million); Data sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_elements_in_Earth's_crust So Platinum is slightly more abundant than Gold, also the moon is believed to have high concentrations of Platinum as do many other planets and asteroids. However the question should be what do we have commercially available for above ground use? Mined production 2005 Silver - 20,300 Metric Tons Gold - 2,450 Metric Tons Platinum - 218 Metric Tons Mined production 2006 Silver - 19,500 Metric Tons Gold - 2,500 Metric Tons Platinum - 223 Metric Tons Mined production 2007 Silver - 20,500 Metric Tons Gold - 2,500 Metric Tons Platinum - 230 Metric Tons Mined production 2008 Silver - 20,900 Metric Tons Gold - 2,330 Metric Tons Platinum - 200 Metric Tons Mined production 2009 Silver - 21,400 Metric Tons Gold - 2,350 Metric Tons Platinum - 178 Metric Tons Mined production 2010 Silver - 22,200 Metric Tons Gold - 2,500 Metric Tons Platinum - 183 Metric Tons Mined production 2011 Silver - 23,800 Metric Tons Gold - 2,700 Metric Tons Platinum - 192 Metric Tons Silver Data Sourced = http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/silver/ Gold Data Sourced = http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/gold/ Platinum Data Sourced = http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/platinum/ As you can see from the figures both Silver and Gold show steadily increasing production levels however Platinum, despite it's spot price gains, have plateaued or even tapered off. Some of the more recent declines in production levels were as a result of the Union action in South Africa, South Africa is the world largest producer of Platinum (77% Worlds Supply) followed by Russia (13% World Supply) and to some extent it's also coming from North America. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum#Production_and_trade VALUE? Lets take the current spot price of the three Precious metals and see how much fiat we would have needed to purchase the worlds annual global output for 2011 Silver (Spot US$30.44) x 23,800 Metric Tons or 765,170,000 ounces = US$23,291,774,800 Gold (Spot US$1,662.70) x 2,700 Metric Tons or 86,805,000 ounces = US$144,330,673,500 Platinum (Spot US$1,629.00) x 192 Metric Tons or 6,172,800 ounces = US$10,055,491,200 So a Billionaire could buy the worlds Platinum production for just over US$10B, seems too cheap to be true USES? 46% is used for vehicle emission control in autocatalysts 31% is used for Jewelry 23% Other* *fiberglass, medicines, chemicals, computers, lasers, petroleum products (gasoline), fiber-optic cables, crude oil refining, fertilizers, synthetic fibers, glass, paints, wires, plating, explosives, chemotherapy medicines, industrial refrigerators,spark plugs and more....... Source: http://www.ebullionguide.com/platinum-uses.aspx Lets look at Jewelery and Other, both are increasing annually. One of Platinum's more modern current uses is in Hard Disk Drives for your PC. It's something that is often over looked and also how in our technology age uses such as this continue to come and go and even expand. Year on year the consumption of Platinum in Hard Drives grows at a compounding rate however this could go up 10 fold or could go to zero in the coming years as technology continues to change. Jewelery however is growing at a very slow and steady pace. So 46% is used in catalytic convertors and of which if we changed technologies would mean we would be recycling all the old catalytic convertors during the change. We know that both China and India have an explosive amount of demand for new vehicles ready to kick off but how will this effect the Platinum price if they move to a Fuel Cell car instead of a more conventional combustion engine? Well what if I told you that the switch to Fuel Cells would see a deficit in Platinum? The current catalytic converter contains 3g of Platinum on average however a GM low-temperature Fuel Cell Stack consumes 30g of Platinum. Obviously the amount of Platinum required to run a Fuel Cell Stack would come down over time as efficiencies are fully recognised in the industry however you are either making more combustion engines or you are using it in Fuel Stacks, either way NEW demand for vehicles is still NEW demand for Platinum. Source: http://www.pikeresearch.com/blog/ar...orld-to-roll-out-a-global-fuel-cell-ldv-fleet MINING COST? Well anyone who knows me knows I look at all investments subjectively and I believe one of the best indicators of anything is production cost. Everything can be valued using Supplyemand however if the supply cost is above the market value then you CAN NOT supply and the ratio will readjust until the suppliers can meet the market demand, the readjustment mechanism being the price. So lets take a couple of the largest Platinum produces in the World and look at their costs. Aquarius Platinum (Q1 - 2013) Kroondal = US$1,088 per ounce to mine Mimosa = US$831 per ounce to mine CTRP = US$1,170 per ounce to mine Platinum Mile = US$693 per ounce to mine Source: http://aquariusplatinum.com/announcements?year=2012&title= Anglo American Platinum (2011) R13,552 per ounce average = US$1,554 per ounce# #Subject to variation in the movement of the USD since 2011 Source: http://angloplatinum.investoreports...ur-2011-performance/finance-directors-report/ SILVER STACKER AWARENESS? So how up to speed are Silver Stackers with Platinum? Lets take the posts and divide it by the annual production of the precious metals Silver 85,277 posts / 23,800 tons = 3.58 Gold 17,558 posts / 2,700 tons = 6.5 Platinum 934 posts / 192 tons = 4.86 So probably on par compared to the small annual production and we all knew Silver was the favorite amongst stackers, I think if you take anything away from this it's how truly small the Platinum market really is. If you thought the Silver market was small then Platinum truly is less in many respects. CONCLUSION? So is Platinum a good buy? Well it's food for thought. One thing to consider in Australia is GST, Platinum is the only PGM element that enjoys the GST-FREE status for high purity purchases and so investment in the metal is a fairly easy option. Do your research if you decide to purchase the metal as the premiums for buying Physical Platinum should not be much more than Gold if you are buying from a reputable place. As someone who invests almost solely in Silver I can say I have thought twice about the metal and now proudly own some Platinum as well. Time will tell if it's a wise investment and regardless if you decide to purchase Platinum yourself or not I hope you learned something about the metal anyway.