(Bloomberg) — Palladium is the most valuable of the four major precious metals, with an acute shortage driving prices to records in recent years.
A key component in pollution-control devices for cars and trucks, the metal’s price has been on a tear, more than tripling in the four years through the end of 2020 — lifting it above the price of gold.
1. What is palladium?
It’s a lustrous white material one of the six platinum-group metals (along with ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, iridium and platinum itself). About 85% of palladium ends up in catalytic converters in car exhausts, where it helps turn toxic pollutants into less-harmful carbon dioxide and water vapor.
It is also used in electronics, dentistry and jewelry. The metal is mined primarily in Russia and South Africa, and mostly extracted as a secondary product from operations that are focused on other metals, such as platinum or nickel.
2. Why is it getting more expensive?
Supply has lagged demand for almost a decade. Usage is increasing as governments, especially China’s, tighten regulations to crack down on pollution from vehicles, forcing automakers to increase the amount of precious metal they consume.
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