Rhodium is the rarest precious metal, mined as a by-product of other materials including copper, nickel and platinum.

Rhodium (Rh)

Rhodium is one of the six platinum group metals (PGMs) and the rarest precious metal, known for its resistance to corrosion. It is not found on its own in nature; it is mined as a by-product of other materials including copper, nickel, and platinum. South Africa produces the majority of the world’s supply of rhodium and holds the most reserves. The most significant ESG risks associated with the rhodium supply chain include pollution, negative biodiversity and conservation impacts, and corruption. These are highly associated with the producing countries for rhodium, specifically South, which has alleged cases of illegal mining.

Main Uses and Attributes

One of the six PGMs, rhodium is a precious metal which is considered to be one of the rarest and most valuable precious metals in the world.[1] It is a silver-white metallic element with a high melting point and high resistance to heat, oxidation and corrosion.[2] It is rarely used on its own as it acts as an alloy, due to its strength and resistance to corrosion.[3]

Rhodium is mainly used in the catalytic converters of gasoline-powered vehicles and serves the purpose of reducing the amount of harmful gases emitted from the exhaust into the atmosphere.[4] Through the use of rhodium in catalytic converters, these harmful gases, carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, are converted into less toxic gases.[5] This application for rhodium accounts for just over 75% of its global demand.[6]

Rhodium can also be used in making catalysts in the chemical manufacturing sector, for example in the production of explosives.[7] To a lesser degree, rhodium is found in the jewellery industry, where it is used as a plating material due to its reflective and durable surface.[8] Glass production also accounts for a small share of rhodium use as the metal has properties necessary to create the vessels that contain and shape molten glass.[9]

Main Uses

  • Catalyst
  • Chemicals
  • Jewellery

Key Industries

  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Jewellery

Key Countries

Top Producer South Africa

Supply Chain Risk

TDi assesses Rhodium 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

Rhodium's association with countries experiencing:

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

Association with ESG issues

TDi Sustainability's data rates Rhodium's association with the following issues as high or very high:

Violence and Conflict
Disease Prevalence in Affected Areas
Occupational Health and Safety
Child Labour
Labour Rights
Forced Labour
Company/Community Conflicts
Community Rights Violations
Non-Payment of Taxes
Illicit Financial Flows
Negative Biodiversity and Conservation Impact
Very Low Moderate Very High

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