Palladium (pronounced \pəˈleɪdiəm) is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal that was
discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston, who named it palladium after the
asteroid Pallas, which in turn, was named after the epithet of the Greek goddess
Athena, acquired by her when she slew the giant Pallas. The symbol for palladium is
Pd, and its atomic number is 46.
Palladium, along with platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium form a group
of elements referred to as the platinum group metals (PGMs). Platinum group metals
share similar chemical properties, but palladium has the lowest melting point and is
the least dense of these precious metals. Palladium is also tarnish resistant,
electrically stable and resistant to chemical erosion as well as intense heat
The unique properties of palladium and other platinum group metals account for their
widespread use. One in four goods manufactured today either contain platinum group
metals or had platinum group metals play a key role during their manufacturing
process. Over half of the supply of palladium and its sister metal platinum goes into
catalytic converters, which convert up to 90% of harmful gases from auto exhaust
(hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide) into less harmful substances
(nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapor). Palladium’s precious metal qualities and
appearance generate significant consumption in the luxury jewelry market. Palladium is
found in many electronics including computers, mobile phones, multi-layer ceramic
capacitors, component plating, low voltage electrical contacts, and SED/OLED/LCD
televisions. Palladium is also used in dentistry, medicine, hydrogen purification,
chemical applications, groundwater treatment, and it plays a key role in the technology
used for fuel cells, which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, heat
Palladium bullion has ISO currency codes of XPD and 964. Palladium is one of only four
metals to have such codes, the others being gold, silver and platinum.
Ore deposits of palladium and other platinum group metals are rare, and the most
extensive deposits have been found in the norite belt of the Bushveld Igneous Complex
in the Transvaal in South Africa, the Stillwater Complex in Montana, USA, the Sudbury
District of Ontario, Canada, and the Norilsk Complex in Russia. The numerous
pplications and limited supply sources of palladium result in alladium drawing
considerable investment interest.
Palladium concentration in the Earths Crust is 0.01 ppm. That makes it one of the ten
rarest elements found in the Earth's Crust.
In 2005, Russia was the top producer of palladium, with at least 50% world share,
followed by South Africa, USA and Canada, reports the British Geological Survey.
Palladium may be found as a free metal alloyed with gold and other platinum group
metals in placer deposits of the Ural Mountains, Australia, Ethiopia, South and North
America. It is commercially produced from nickel-copper deposits found in South Africa,
Ontario, and Siberia; the huge volume of ore processed makes this extraction profitable
despite the low proportion of palladium in these ores. The world's largest single
producer of palladium is MMC Norilsk Nickel produced from the Norilsk–Talnakh nickel
deposits. The Merensky Reef of the Bushveld Igneous Complex of South Africa contains
significant palladium in addition to other platinum group elements. The Stillwater
igneous complex of Montana and the Roby zone orebody of the Lac des Iles igneous
complex of Ontario also contain mineable palladium.
Palladium is a soft silver-white metal that resembles platinum. It is the least dense and
has the lowest melting point of the platinum group metals. It is soft and ductile when
annealed and greatly increases its strength and hardness when it is cold-worked.
Palladium dissolves slowly in sulfuric, nitric, and hydrochloric acid. This metal also
does not react with oxygen at normal temperatures (and thus does not tarnish in air).
Palladium heated to 800°C will produce a layer of palladium(II) oxide (PdO). It lightly
tarnishes in moist atmosphere containing sulfur.
Long Term Price Trends:
In the run up in 2000. Russian supply of Palladium to the global market was repeatedly
delayed and disrupted because the export quota was not granted on time,for political
reasons. The ensuing market panic drove the palladuim price to an all time high of
$1100 per ounce in January 2001.