Your site for information on investing in rhodium, ruthenium, iridium, and osmium
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About this site
The primary purpose of this site is to provide useful information to people who are interested in investing in the "exotic" platinum group metals (PGMs), namely ruthenium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium. How are these metals traded? What is their current value? How do you go about buying them? Answers to questions such as these can be extremely difficult to find. We hope that this site will change that. We also intend to provide links to other useful information about the science of platinum group metals, and their present and future applications.
The spot prices of platinum, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, and iridium currently are set by Johnson Matthey twice each day for the American market. For the latest prices and price histories, click here. The spot price for osmium is harder to find, but you can see it here.
These prices are for large orders, typically 100 troy ounces or more.
It’s important to understand that the spot prices for exotic PGMs are not like the spot prices for metals like platinum, silver, gold, and copper. Compared to these heavily traded commodities, only very small amounts of ruthenium, iridium, osmium and rhodium are bought and sold each day. The fact the Johnson Matthey is offering ruthenium at, say, $85/oz does not mean that anyone actually is buying it at that price. The exotic PGM market is much less formal than markets for other metals. The spot prices really are just starting points for bargaining between buyers and sellers. Buyers of large amounts of exotic PGMs can get prices below spot; people who want to buy small amounts can expect to pay much more than spot.
The spot prices listed are for metal ‘sponge,’ which is the refined metal that has not been formed into ingots. Sponge consists of small crystals of refined metal interspersed with tiny gas pockets. It is not particularly pretty, and does not have the color or luster of an ingot.
There are no futures markets for these metals, so that the only way to make money directly from exotic PGMs is to buy them and wait for the price to rise. But unlike more heavily traded metals, this is not necessarily a foolish thing to do, for two reasons.
First, PGMs are authentically rare, and are present in only tiny amounts in the earth’s crust. Even platinum ore contains only a few parts per million (at most) of platinum, and much smaller concentrations of the exotic PGMs.
Second, the exotic PGMs are not mined for themselves, but are produced entirely as a byproduct of platinum and nickel mining. This means that supplies of these metals do not respond to changes in demand. If a particular metal is in short supply, its price will rise dramatically, and fall just as dramatically if demand slackens. For example, rhodium currently is trading at about $1200/Troy oz., about three times what it was trading for a few years ago. The price of ruthenium also has increased more than three fold over the past few years, and over five fold since its historic low.
Buying exotic PGMs
It unfortunately is very difficult to buy platinum group metals (other than platinum and palladium). Finding osmium is especially difficult.
If you want to buy small amounts of these metals, the best place I know of is the Ebay store Element Collection. The current price for osmium at Element Collection is $31/gram, which is about 250% above the spot price; rhodium is going for $300/gram, which is only about 50% above spot. Element Collection samples are not metals sponge, but fused pellets that show the characteristic color and luster of each metal. We have no association with Element Collection, and are posting this for informational purposes only.
Buying exotic PGMs for investment is much more difficult. The major producers of these metals are either uninterested in selling to investors, or actively discourage it. Perhaps they fear that, without a futures market, investment buyers would add uncertainty to an already volatile marketplace.
To our knowledge, there are only American companies that sell exotic PGMs to individual investors, and only one of these sells osmium.
Getting a good price on exotic PGMs requires buying in large lots. If you are not prepared to spent the $8500 to $120,000 need to buy 100 ounces of one of these metals, you may be able to combine your order with the orders of other people.
General information about PGMs
We intend to add general information over the next few weeks. In the meantime, Johnson Matthey is an excellent source, and publishes a free online journal, Platinum Metals Review. The USGS also publishes an annual report giving information on supply, demand, and domestic production of PGMs.
This site is run by Tom and Joe. We are brothers who share a passion for strange food, carnivorous plants, wild mushrooms, saturnid moths, and things that are rare and precious. Tom is a small businessman and retired publisher; Joe is a non-tenured academic paleontologist.