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Northern Utah Prospector's Association
Platinum and PGM's, 2004
 

       Platinums symbol is PT. Its Atomic number is 78 and its atomic weight is 195.23. It is very dense (21.37) and it has a hardness of 4.3 (soft). Platinums melting point is 1,773.5 degrees Celsius. Platinum is softer than silver in its pure state. Its metallic color is grayish-white. Platinum does not oxidize or tarnish (just like gold) like silver does. You can dissolve Platinum (and gold) in a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acid.

       Platinum is never found in its pure state. Platinum is almost always found in a native state, in placer deposits, in dust, grains or small nuggets. Platinum is usually alloyed with other metals in the range of 60 to 85% pure. This gives native Platinum its grayish-white color. In some cases, it will look almost like lead. The largest deposits of Platinum are found in Russia, Alaska, Columbia and South Africa. There are many placers throughout the world where small amounts of Platinum and PGMs are found (if you look for them). Some of these placer spots are the ones that we work in. Some of the largest nuggets that are found do not exceed one gram in size.

       Platinum is used in coins, jewelry, and as a catalyst in automobile exhaust systems. It is used in small amounts in white gold jewelry. Over the last 40 years or so, platinum has increased in value an average of 5.37% per year. Gold has increased in value (over this same time period) 5.8% while silver has only increased 3.33%, on average. Meanwhile, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has averaged a 4.39% increase. You can see why Gold and PGMs retain their value.

       The Johnson Matthey Company, Precious Metals Division, is forecasting that Platinum may reach $820 per Troy ounce by years end (2004). It is currently trading in the mid $700's, so I believe that their estimates are very conservative. This is the highest price for platinum since 1980. Even though Russian production is forecast to increase during 2004, Johnson Matthey believes that demand will still exceed production by almost 500,000 Troy ounces. Demand for gold is also expected to be above production totals for the eighth year in a row. This indicates that gold should increase in value over the next year. I am going to predict that gold should increase by at least 10% during 2004 to a price of about $460 per troy ounce.

Happy Prospecting and may your pan show lots of yellow (or grayish-white) during 2004.

Richard Thomas

This article was written by Richard Thomas, a member of N.U.P.A.