Palladium is a rare and precious platinum group metal whose major use is for catalytic converters in automobiles.

Palladium (Pd)

Palladium, like other platinum group metals (PGMs), is scarce. It is approximately 30 times rarer than gold. It is often produced as a by-product of the refining processes of ores of copper, nickel, zinc and other PGMs and its main use is as a catalyst in chemical reactions, most commonly in automobile catalytic converters.1,2 Only a handful of countries extract significant amounts of palladium, including Canada, Russia, South Africa the United States and Zimbabwe, with four fifths of volume coming from Russia and South Africa.3

Economic sanctions against palladium refined in Russia have been enforced by the European Union, the World Trade Organisation and the London Platinum and Palladium Market following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Soil and water pollution can arise from heavy metal discharges from palladium extraction.

Large increases in the market price of palladium in recent years have incentivised the theft of catalytic converters from automobiles in multiple countries.

Main Uses and Attributes

Palladium is a silvery metal with similar properties to other PGMs. Of these metals, it is the least dense and has the lowest melting point. It is extremely ductile and highlight resistant to corrosion and tarnishing – properties which are desirable for manufacturing jewellery.4 Palladium also has a very high affinity with hydrogen, meaning that it can readily absorb large amounts of hydrogen gas onto its surface at ambient conditions. These are properties that may make it a critical material for the increased use of hydrogen-based fuels in transport.5,6

Its potent catalytic properties make palladium automobile catalytic converters highly effective. They can detoxify up to 90 percent of harmful substances from fuel combustion.7 Two-thirds of global palladium consumption is linked to the automotive industry, primarily in catalytic converters.8 When alloyed with silver or gold it can also be used to fabricate different kinds of medical equipment, such as dental fillings, prostheses and surgical instruments, and can be used for jewellery. There are also numerous applications in the electronics industry, such as computers, smartphones, TV screens and for ceramic capacitors.9 It is used extensively in solar energy, the chemical industry and groundwater treatment.

Main Uses

  • Catalyst
  • Electronics
  • Fuel cells
  • Jewellery
  • Medical Equipment
  • Renewable energy

Key Industries

  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Electronics
  • Jewellery
  • Medical
  • Renewable energy

Key Countries

Top Producer South Africa
Top Reserves South Africa

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Palladium for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.

Overall Supply Chain Resilience Risk
Strength of Association with ASM
Very Low Moderate Very High

Country Governance Risks

Palladium's association with countries experiencing:

Violence and Conflict
Weak Rule of Law
Poor Human Rights
Poor Environmental Governance
Very Low Moderate Very High

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