August 27, 2010. The industrial Platinum Group Metal market during the summer of 2010 is for the most part as featureless and stagnant as a Nevada salt flat. Industrial PGM prices deflated late in the second quarter from a local price maximum in April of this year. Platinum, Palladium, Rhodium, and Ruthenium prices have since late in 2Q2010 dribbled or stair-stepped to the current price landing.
Gold, which is forever in the grasp of the conjoined twins of vanity and fear, has managed to retain some upward movement in price on the EIB. Silver has followed suit like a bubble slowly rising in the viscid molassas of the global marketplace.
The only industrial PGM to show any sustained vigor is Iridium. This metal began its steep price climb in January of 2010 from US$420/toz to the present EIB price of US$725/toz.
Getting to the cause of any given price change in the PGM market is tricky. Unless you’re an insider, it is difficult to peel back the layers of overprinting of the actual supply picture with the actual demand and contend with the ever present speculation effects.
According to a Reuters article from May, 2010, Chinese demand for Ruthenium and Iridium electrode components in its growing chlor-alkali sector was driving the market. But the Reuters article coincided with the local price maximum in 2Q2010. Ruthenium prices have since fallen but Iridium prices have continued to grow, albeit modestly. The metasticizing chemical market in China will be a constant factor in the demand for all PGM’s.
Whatever the cause, Iridium suppliers are enjoying an isolated run up in price.
Note to readers in the future. Be sure to note the date of this posting. Postings about PGM pricing have the shelf life of a warm mackerel.