The Biggest Palladium Producers
The world's top 8 palladium producers
Palladium is a member of the platinum group of metals. It's considered a "white metal," which is a term used to describe alloys that are lighter in color. Palladium can resist chemical erosion and intense heat, and it's also electrically stable. The metal is used in electronic components, jewelry, and surgical instruments.
Palladium is considered a precious metal, and as a result, prices can fluctuate depending on supply and demand forces. The total primary refined palladium output was around 7.54 million ounces, or approximately 214 tons, in 2017. Demand for palladium autocatalysts has increased investment demand for the precious metal.
The production statistics below are compiled from company financial and operation reports available online. The most recent data available was used, but in some cases, the statistics come from 2018. Annual refined palladium production numbers for each company can be found beside the company's name. Some companies don't tally palladium production separately and instead include palladium figures in their overall totals for platinum group metals (PGM).
Norilsk Nickel - 3.08 million ounces of palladium
MMC Norilsk Nickel ("Norilsk") is one of the world's largest producers of nickel and palladium, and it's a top-10 producer of copper. The company extracts precious and platinum group metals as by-products from its mines on the Taimyr and Kola Peninsulas (both in Russia). While the majority of its production takes place in Russia, the company also manages mines in Botswana and South Africa. Norilsk, Russia's largest mining company, also extracts and refines cobalt, silver, gold, tellurium, and selenium as by-products.
Anglo Platinum - 4.5 million ounces of PGM
The assets of Anglo American Platinum Limited (Amplats) consist of 14 managed mines, as well as a number of joint-venture mines and associated mines across South Africa and in Zimbabwe. Most of the ore from these mines is processed at one of Amplats' 14 concentrators, before being smelted at one of the company's three refineries in South Africa. Total refined palladium production rose 14% year-over-year in 2017, though the company noted a 2% decrease in PGM production in 2019.
Sibanye-Stillwater - 2.1 million ounces of PGM
As recently as 2016, Sibanye would have fallen much lower on the list, despite producing large amounts of palladium from its Montana-based operations. Then came a slew of acquisitions. First, in April 2016, came the acquisition of Aquarius Platinum Ltd., which brought seven properties in South Africa and Zimbabwe under Sibanye's mining umbrella. Then, in 2017, Sibanye Gold Limited acquired Stillwater Mining Company in 2017, forming Sibanye-Stillwater. The final key acquisition came on June 10, 2019, when Sibanye-Stillwater acquired Lonmin. Lonmin had previously landed on this list in its own right, but it now adds more than 300,000 ounces of palladium production to Sibanye-Stillwater's annual total.
Impala Platinum - 849,300 ounces of palladium
Impala Platinum's (Implats) operations are focused around the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe. The company's primary operational unit is on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex, near Rustenburg. Implats also owns a 73% stake in Marula on the eastern limb. In Zimbabwe, the company operates Zimplats and has an interest in Mimosa Platinum.
Impala Refining Services (IRS) smelts and refines the metal from the company's own ore, as well as from material purchased from third-party companies. Impala produced 849,300 ounces of palladium by the end of the company's fiscal year 2018.
Vale - 250,000 ounces of palladium
Vale is the world's largest second-largest mining company, the leading producer of iron ore and pellets, and among the world's biggest nickel producers. As many nickel ores also contain PGMs, Vale can extract palladium as a by-product of its nickel refining process. The company takes PGM-containing concentrates from its Sudbury, Canada operations to a processing facility in Port Colborne, Ontario, which produces PGMs, gold, and silver intermediate products. These, along with recyclable and toll-treated materials from unrelated parties, are sent to Vale's refinery in Acton, England, where they are processed into high-purity products.
North American Palladium - 224,000 ounces of palladium
North American Palladium operates the Lac des Iles (LDI) mine, located in northern Ontario, which began production in 1993. The LDI mine is currently undergoing expansion with North American Palladium, so production levels are expected to rise. Quarterly reporting from September 2019 put the company on track to hit an annual production level of roughly 224,000 ounces, but North American Palladium is targeting a production level of 250,000 ounces per year after the expansion's completion.
Northam - 150,043 ounces of palladium
Northam is an integrated PGM producer with operations focused around the Bushveld Complex in South Africa. The company's primary facility is the wholly-owned Zondereinde platinum mine and metallurgical complex, which extracts more than 350,000 ounces of PGM concentrate annually. Toll-refining for PGM concentrate takes place under contract with WC Heraeus, and PGM concentrate is delivered weekly to Heraeus' facility in Hanau, Germany, where platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, silver, ruthenium, and iridium are all separated. Working with Heraeus, Northam also refines and markets PGMs extracted from Platmin's Pilanesberg Mine.