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Platinum is highly valued as a precious metal and an industrial metal. It is the least reactive metal known to man and has remarkable resistance to corrosion. Platinum was used by the Egyptians 3000 years ago and used throughout Central and South America by the Incas as early as 200 BC. Because its melting point is much higher than gold its global use occurred later than gold.
Although heavier and harder than gold and silver its name is derived from the Spanish term ‘platina’, which means “little silver”. Prior to 1820, Colombia was the only source of platinum followed by Russia and Canada where, as today, platinum is present as a by-product mainly in Nickel deposits. The discovery in 1924 in South Africa of the world’s largest platinum deposit provided a source to meet the worlds growing needs for industrial applications and jewellery, with the region today responsible for over 75% of global mined supply.
All the platinum ever mined is 30 times less than all the gold ever mined and today the mined platinum is 20 times smaller than mined gold.
In the 1990s the South African Platinum producers established the Platinum Guild International (PGI) tasked with developing a global platinum jewellery market. The PGI’s success is largely responsible for platinum jewellery sales growing to the current level of some 3 million ounces per annum.
Platinum fuel cells were first used in 1842. Little known uses that greatly improve quality of life today include use in: Cancer medication, heart pacemaker leads, heart pacemakers, medical devices that remain in the body, airbag contacts, high density coatings for computer hard discs and in the production of: Fibre glass, flat screen glass, LCD display glass, silicon and nitric acid for fertilizer.