By Sahit Muja
CEO, Albanian Minerals
The world is about to experience an unprecedented price hike in Platinum Group Elements (PGEs).
As of 2021 the magnificent and indispensable metal, Rhodium is the most valuable metal in the world. The Rhodium price has been rocketing from $6,000 an ounce at the start of 2020 to a high of $21,000 an ounce by February 2021.
Rhodium atomic number is 45. It is an extraordinarily rare, silvery white, hard, corrosion-resistant and chemically inert transition metal. It is a noble metal and a member of the Platinum Group Element (PGE).
Today the price of Rhodium is over $ 735 million USD per ton. Most Rhodium mines and production plants are concentrated in the Bushveld Igneous Complex of South Africa .
In 2021 severe supply disruptions is expected as reserves in this region are on the depletion stage, very limited investment’s and limited geological drilling to find more reserves.
PGE precious metals are rare and have a high economic value, due to their various uses including their effect in reducing CO2 emissions.
The lack of geographical diversity in PGM mine supply created a major global supply challenge in the near future for very important Precious Metal; Rhodium, Platinum and Palladium.
The impact of COVID-19 and the unexpected shutdown of a large processing plant resulted in Platinum and Rhodium output falling by around 20 per cent year on year, with Palladium production declining by 15 percent.
The big shortage in the market is due to the supply chain struggling to meet resurgent demand.
The high grade of PGE Ore reserves in existing mines are limited, so the major Miners need to spend substantial sum of money every year just to maintain the production. Mining and Refining of PGEs have become very expensive.
The PGEs such as Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium’s main application is to clean vehicle emissions, and surging demand amid tighter pollution regulation, particularly in US, Europe and China, and supply shortfalls from top producer South Africa and Russia could see the metal price skyrocket in the near future.
The main use for rhodium is in catalytic converters designed to clean vehicle emissions. Rhodium alloyed with palladium and platinum is reducing nitrogen oxide in exhaust gas. Without rhodium catalysts, the air in our cities would be much worse due to vehicle exhausts.
Since rhodium is quite brilliant and resistant to tarnishing, it is used as a finish for jewelry, searchlights and mirrors. It is also alloyed with platinum for aircraft turbine engines. In the chemical industry, rhodium is used as a catalyst in the making of nitric acid, acetic acid and hydrogenation reactions, according to the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Other uses of rhodium include coating optic fibers, crucibles, thermocouple elements and headlight reflectors. Since it has a low electrical resistance and is highly resistant to corrosion, it is used as an electrical contact material as well, according to RSC.
Rhodium is also alloyed with platinum to make reinforcement fiber for the high-tech glass on consumer electronic and used as catalyst to make certain chemicals.
South Africa, the world’s largest PGE, Chrome Ore producer, has approved an export tax on chrome ore, to support domestic ferrochrome industry.
Africa; being so richly endowed with significant reserves of the world’s most important metals, must immediately change the course and become equipped technologically and financially to become a significant producer and put an end to the pattern of Africa’s abundant resources yielding limited benefits to Africa and Africans.
Currently, the financial gains go predominantly to foreign corporations who export the raw materials obtained at extremely cheap prices.
Africa must examine her current positioning in the metals sector and devise executable strategies for positioning to become a forerunner, if this wealthy continent is to realize the gains and benefits of her resources, including an increase in the price of metals.
South Africa is rich in a variety of minerals. In addition to Diamonds and Gold, the country also have in reserves, Iron ore, Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium, Manganese, Chromium, Copper, Uranium, Silver, Beryllium, and Titanium.
Time to end South Africa’s economic devastation and the tragedy of modern day robbery. Looking at the issue from economic prosperity dimension, the profit made by the people in South Africa is equivalent to unprecedented modern day slavery .
It is fair to say trading raw materials to global markets at very low price is a significant disadvantage.
The conclusion that can then be drawn from this situation is that; the current mineral resource trading model is not working to bring economic prosperity to Africa particularly in South Africa; the worlds richest Nation in Natural Resources .
Albanian Minerals in collaboration with ESGADIA is advocating for a new vision for African Mineral Resources to be effectively utilized to address her social and economic needs. To achieve the high aspirations of this vision, Africa needs to get back to the fundamentals and solve problems of Electricity and critical Infrastructures that have continued to plague the management of the Continent’s Natural Resources.
Chinese unfair trade that penalize South Africa’s economy need to be reviewed in light of the increased demand for minerals in the future.
Albanian Minerals currently hold the largest reserves of chrome ore in Europe with highest quality lumpy chrome ore in the world. This mineral resource has great concentration of PGE Metals including Rhodium.