World’s Most Expensive Precious Metal Surges Amid Emissions Clampdown – by Joe Wallace (Wall Street Journal – January 23, 2020)

The price of rhodium, a precious metal that strips pollutants out of exhaust fumes, is surging as car manufacturers in Asia and Europe scramble to abide by stricter emission regimes.

Supplies of rhodium are limited because the metal is mined as a byproduct of platinum, palladium and gold, while demand is rising as regulators restrict emissions and subject autos to more rigorous tests.

Rhodium prices—which are vulnerable to wild swings because the metal has no futures market—have surged 65% to $9,985 a troy ounce in 2020, according to British chemicals company Johnson Matthey PLC. This builds on last year’s rally, extending rhodium’s advance over the past 12 months to more than 300%.

“This is a huge move already in a couple of weeks,” said Hans-Guenter Ritter, head of precious-metal trading at German refiner and manufacturer Heraeus Holding GmbH. He said the pace of rhodium’s ascent was unsustainable.

The simultaneous surge in rhodium and palladium prices is a boon for the handful of South African and Russian miners that dominate the production of platinum-group metals.

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