DEFINITION of 'Palladium'

Palladium is a shiny, silvery metal used in many types of manufacturing processes, particularly for electronics and industrial products. Palladium has an atomic number of 46 on the periodic table of the elements. The majority of the world's supply of this rare metal comes from mines located in the United States, Russia, South Africa and Canada.

BREAKING DOWN 'Palladium'

Palladium is an important component in electronics, and it is used in many new technologies, such as fuel cells. As a commodity, it has drawn the attention of investors because it is not easily substituted for other metals. The element is an important component of catalytic converters. Palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs).

Palladium is more 30 times more rare than gold. This rarity affects its price on commodities markets. As of 2016, the highest price for palladium was $1,125 per troy ounce in 2001. Political instability in Russia, the world's largest producer of palladium, caused the price to skyrocket at that time. The next-highest price was $900 per troy ounce in August 2014.

Fun Facts and Uses

The largest industrial use for palladium is in catalytic converters because the metal serves as a great catalyst that speeds up chemical reactions. This shiny metal is 12.6% harder than platinum, making the element more durable than platinum.

Jewelers first incorporated palladium into jewelry in 1939. When mixed with yellow gold, the alloy forms a metal stronger than white gold. In 1967, the government of Tonga issued circulating palladium coins touting the coronation of King Taufa Ahau Tupou IV. This is the first recorded instance of palladium used in coinage.

Metalworkers can create thin sheets of palladium down to 1/250,000th of an inch. Pure palladium is malleable, but it becomes stronger and harder once someone works with the metal at room temperature.

Statistics

In 2015, humans mined more than 208,000 tons of palladium. Russia produced the most at 80,000 tons, and South Africa was second with 73,000 tons. Canada ranked third with 24,000 tons. The United States produced 12,500 tons from two palladium mines in southern Montana owned by Stillwater Palladium. More than 60 tons of palladium in the United States came from recycling of catalytic converters in 2015.

The price per troy ounce of palladium averaged $690 in 2015, compared to $1,080 for 1 troy ounce of platinum. The price of palladium hovered around $100 to $150 per ounce from 1986 to 1996 before spiking around 2001. Historically, the price of palladium was volatile from 2001 to 2016 compared to previous periods.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Platinum

    A chemical element, precious metal and commodity used primarily ...
  2. Troy Ounce

    A unit of measure for weight that dates back to the Middle Ages. ...
  3. Precious Metals

    A classification of metals that are considered to be rare and/or ...
  4. New York Mercantile Exchange - ...

    The world's largest physical commodity futures exchange. Trading ...
  5. Base Metals

    Metals that oxidize, tarnish or corrode relatively easily when ...
  6. London Spot Fix

    A price per ounce for each of the precious metals (gold, silver, ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing

    A Primer On Palladium

    This rare metal is being used in the industry more and more. See how you can get exposure.
  2. Investing

    Top 3 ETFs With Exposure to Palladium (PALL, SPPP)

    Discover why palladium is considered a precious metal, and learn about some of the ETF options that provide investors exposure to palladium.
  3. Investing

    Commodities Continue to Outpace Equities

    Gold, silver, palladium and even oil have outpaced equities, despite their strong performance.
  4. Investing

    How a Bad Zimbabwean Bill Helps Stillwater Mining

    Because Stillwater Mining (NYSE: SWC) is the only U.S. miner of platinum group metals -- and the largest primary producer of those metals outside of South Africa and Russia -- it stands to benefit ...
  5. Investing

    The Top 5 Platinum Stocks for 2016 (SWC, PLG)

    Discover five of the most promising platinum mining stocks that investors may wish to consider adding to their portfolios for 2016.
  6. Investing

    Investing In The Metals Markets

    Learn the many options available for investing in the earth's chemical elements, such as gold, silver and rare-earth metals.
  7. Investing

    The Top 5 Platinum Penny Stocks for 2016 (PLG, XPL)

    Examine five penny stocks in the platinum mining business that investors may wish to consider adding to their investment portfolios for 2016.
  8. Investing

    Why Gold Has Always Had Value

    Gold has an allure and a price tag, but with no real intrinsic value, why do we consider it so precious and valuable? Explore the answer.
  9. Investing

    A Beginner's Guide To Precious Metals

    All that glitters isn't gold. Find out how to get started on your treasure hunt.
  10. Investing

    Should You Add Metals To Your Portfolio? (SLV, GLD)

    This study examines how various metals have performed over the last 10+ years, with analysis of whether you should consider investing in metals.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What other precious metals are there beyond gold and silver?

    Discover the other, lesser-known precious metals such as platinum and palladium, which are more tied to the industrial economy ... Read Answer >>
  2. What countries represent the largest portion of the global metals and mining sector ...

    Learn which countries have the largest mining production in the world and how precious metals are a significant source of ... Read Answer >>
  3. What are the most common ETFs that track the metals and mining sector?

    Discover investment opportunities with ETFs that invest in physical precious and base metals and miners such as gold, silver, ... Read Answer >>
  4. What are the main reasons an investor would look at the metals and mining sector?

    Learn about long-term growth prospects for the metals and mining sector. Find out how these natural resources can help balance ... Read Answer >>
  5. How much of a diversified portfolio should be exposed to the metals and mining sector?

    Learn what criteria investors use to determine what percentage of their diversified portfolios should be exposed to the metals ... Read Answer >>
  6. What are the main benchmarks for tracking the performance of the metals and mining ...

    Discover how benchmarks are useful to investors and a variety of indexes and ETFs that can be used as benchmarks to track ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. IRS Publication 970

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that provides information on tax benefits available to students ...
  2. Federal Direct Loan Program

    A program that provides low-interest loans to postsecondary students and their parents. The William D. Ford Federal Direct ...
  3. Cash Flow

    The net amount of cash and cash-equivalents moving into and out of a business. Positive cash flow indicates that a company's ...
  4. PLUS Loan

    A low-cost student loan offered to parents of students currently enrolled in post-secondary education. With a PLUS Loan, ...
  5. Graduate Record Examination - GRE

    A standardized exam used to measure one's aptitude for abstract thinking in the areas of analytical writing, mathematics ...
  6. Graduate Management Admission Test - GMAT

    A standardized test intended to measure a test taker's aptitude in mathematics and the English language. The GMAT is most ...
Trading Center