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The Platinum Group Metals and their pricings have been shrouded in mystery and intrigue since platinum was discovered by some unknown peoples "way back when." Carbon dating shows the first platinum featured jewelry item dates circa 400 A.D.
First mistaken for silver, then scorned, then coveted, then repudiated, then coveted again, the price of this PGM metal has been through many extreme cycles in the last 1600+ years. And that price volatility is NOT over. Not by any stretch of imagination.
Most of the inelastic price gyrations have been traceable to PGM's lack of malleability by early prospectors and scientists. Secondary pricing considerations have been political and monetary anomalies in the marketplace.
Modern automotive, medical, agri-industrial advancements owe a great deal of their viability to the many scientific advancements kick started by Wollaston in the early 1800s. Fortunately, just prior to Wollaston's death in 1828, he finally revealed for posterity his basic PLATINUM processing secrets, being the first to do so in 1400 years. History records his death coincided with the discovery and early mining of huge platinum orebodies in the the Russian Ural Mtns during that same decade.
Later discovery of platinum orebodies in So. Africa contributed to addition PGM price volatility.
Platinum has not yielded its post "long-wall extraction" processess nor its refining secrets easily, even in this new millenium.
Many post mining procedures are shrouded to this current day in trade secrets, obfuscation, and down right deliberate withholding of practical metallurgical practice information. David Lundy, 1983 Marketing Mgr at Johnson-Matthey Inc, (USA), is quoted as saying in a 1983 interview,
"When companies develop a new technique in this business, they often don't tip their hand by patenting it. They just start using it, not letting the competition know."
Another east coast "job shop" spokesperson, Sal Salvarese, whose company produces thousands of customized proprietary platinum products has bragged:
"We turn out thousands of [platinum] products. Some we just make to specifications, without even knowing what they are OR what they're for."
This obfuscation in PLATINUM PROUDUCTS when coupled with PLATINUM PROCESSES shrouded in mystery contributes to the PGM $$price$$ volatility so familiar in this particular metal, and so clearly revealed in available historical price charts.
The final purification steps for Platinum family members, iridium, ruthenium, osmium and rhodium can involve as many as 200 different processing stages. Completing them can take upwards of one year to complete, depending upon which PGM element is being isolated in the refining process.
Not only does this "time lag" revelation offer a window into understanding Platinum Pricing, it also offers great opportunity to those PGM recyclers who performing valuable platinum supply sourcing which is NOT dependent upon either Russia's supply whims due to currency difficulties nor So. Africa's political overtones constantly present in the rumor-driven, global platinum futures market. Russia has riched deserved all perceptions of capricious supply manipulations due to the Russian Ministry of Mines who soley determines how much and how often their primarily Norlisk sourced PGMs reach outside buyers in the marketplace, whether for automotive or decorative end-users..
Tracking and understand platinum recycling is critical to the serious student of platinum price trackings. Fortunately, in this society of built-in-obsolescence combined with entrepreneurial savvy, these rare raw-materials NOW POST MINING and beyond the control of either Russia currency woes or So. Africa political badgerings contribute to the waste stream of modern society. Someone has said that while Canada may contain the 3rd largest source of platinum orebodies, the United States west coast is the 4th largest platinum mine in the world, due to the sheer volume of PGM recycling done there.
Silicon Investor readers familiar with the copious statistics offered by CPM group, World Gold Council, Silver Institute, Kitco, Johnson's Goldsheet links, and Nick's "Sharefin" links have recently had the "above ground supply/demand affecting pricing of the two more common Gold & Silver metals" driven painfully home. Both those metals have HUGE recycling tonnages augmenting their gold and silver mined ore supply stream.
Therefore, any investor in Platinum would be well advised to take into account the PGM recycling abundance and opportunities to return to the supply stream currently occuring primarily in American, Europe and Japan. Catalytic converter recycling contributes approximately 50% to post mining recycled PGM supplies.
This one-dimensional C/C pursuit leaves another 50% PGM supply above ground, within in the non-understood, and under-appreciated individual entrepreneur's baliwick. That is a huge, "un-tracked until now" potential supply source which could seriously effect Platinum Pricing going forward.
One serious expose' covering both the CC 50% waste stream component as well as the "other 50%" waste-stream recycled products' contributions, is my personal research completed in these waning months of 2002. Those who wish more information regarding that research should PM me or use links in my SI profile which interface with my exclusive publisher. My SI Profile can be accessed by clicking on my gold_tutor name to pursue serious tracking of this 4th great above ground mine contribution to current and future Platinum Pricing of this great "white metal" whale of the future of civilization.
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