The 10 Biggest Platinum Producers
Annual global platinum production exceeded 8 million ounces a year as of fall 2017. Much like platinum ores in the Earth's crust, though, the production of platinum metal is highly concentrated, with the four largest refiners accounting for 67% of total platinum production. The world's largest platinum producer, Anglo Platinum, accounted for nearly 40% of all primary refined platinum and roughly 30% of total global production. Read on to learn who are the globe's top platinum producers, according to Metalary, an industry website that tracks metal production and prices worldwide.
Anglo American Platinum
The assets of Anglo American Platinum Limited (Amplats) consist of 11 managed mines across South Africa and in Zimbabwe that together produce nearly 2.4 million ounces of platinum annually, worth more than $2.2 billion in fall 2017 prices. Most of the ore from these mines is processed at one of Amplats' 14 own concentrators before being smelted at one of the company's three refineries in South Africa.
Impala Platinum (Implats), whose operations are focused around the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe, produces nearly 1.6 million ounces of platinum yearly, making it the planet's second-largest producer. The company's primary operational unit is on the western limb of the 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.
Lonmin, which was initially incorporated as the London and Rhodesian Mining and Land Company Ltd. (Lonrho) in 1909, produces 687,272 ounces of platinum yearly, putting it at No. 3 on the list. The company's primary operation, the Marikana mine, is on the western limb of the Bushveld complex. Ore extracted by Lonmin is sent to Lonmin's process division where base metals, including copper and nickel, are extracted before it is refined to metal along with other platinum group metals, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, and iridium.
Norilsk Nickel (Norilsk) is the world's largest producer of nickel (accounting for 17% of global production) and palladium (41%), and a top 10 producer of copper. It also produces 683,000 ounces of platinum annually. The company extracts precious and platinum group metals as by-products from its mines on the Taimyr and Kola Peninsulas (both in Russia) as well as from 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.
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. has interests in seven properties in South Africa and Zimbabwe, two of which are currently producing 418,461 ounces of platinum per year. The Kroondal and Mimosa mines are, respectively, located in the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and Great Dyke in Zimbabwe. Ore is sent to two metallurgical concentrator plants situated on the property, which have a combined monthly capacity of 570,000 tons.
Northam, an integrated PGM producer with operations in focused around the Bushveld Complex in South Africa, produces 175,000 ounces of platinum a year. The company's primary facility is the Zondereinde platinum mine and metallurgical complex. Toll refining for PGM concentrate takes place under contract with WC Heraeus in Germany and is delivered on a weekly basis to Heraeus' Hanau facility where platinum, palladium, rhodium, gold, silver, ruthenium and iridium are all separated.
Sibanye Stillwater produces nearly 155,000 ounces of platinum annually. The company's main assets are located along the 28-mile-long J-M Reef ore body in Montana, which consists primarily of palladium, platinum and a minor amount of rhodium. Sibanye Stillwater operates two underground mines, East Boulder and Stillwater. Concentrates from the mine sites, along with crushed catalyst material for recycling, are processed at the company’s smelter in Columbus, Montana.
Vale SA is the world's second-largest mining company, the leading producer of iron ore and pellets and the world's second-biggest nickel producer. It also produces 134,000 ounces of platinum annually. As many nickel ores also contain PGMs, Vale is able to extract platinum 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.
Glencore produces just over 80,000 ounces of platinum a year. Its Eland and Mototolo mines—the latter a joint venture with Anglo Platinum—are located along the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex in the Transvaal Basin in South Africa. The company also extracts PGMs from its nickel sulfide ores in the Sudbury Basin, in Canada. Many may know the platinum-mining firm as Xstrata, but Glencore purchased Xtrata in 2013, dropping that firm's name shortly thereafter.
Japan-based Asahi Holding produces about 75,000 ounces of platinum a year as part of its precious metals group. The company collects, refines and recycles precious and rare metals used in electronics, catalysts, dentistry, jewelry, and photography. As the group notes on its website:
"By recycling gold, silver, palladium, platinum, indium, and others as precious metals and rare metal products indispensable for modern manufacturing, we contribute to effective utilization of resources and development of industry."