The 9 Biggest Rhodium Producers 2014
An estimated 933,000 troy ounces (ozs) of rhodium were refined worldwide in 2014, a four percent decline in total global production from a year earlier.
The decline in rhodium production was mostly attributable to a long workers strike in South Africa, which involved 70,000 miners and put a halt to work at major platinum group metal (PGM) mines for nearly six months.
The decline in rhodium production from mines, however, was partially offset by a 14 percent increase in rhodium recycled from end-of-life autocatalysts. Recycled sources account for one-third of the annual production of the metal.
About 70 percent of all rhodium is used in the manufacture of three-way catalysts, which reduce the nitrous oxide emissions from light-duty gasoline cars and motorcycles.
The top 9 producers of rhodium accounted for about 700,000 ounces of rhodium production or three-quarters of total global production in 2014.
The production statistics shown beside company names below were compiled from corporate annual reports available from producer websites, and are based on the corporate fiscal year 2014 production results.
Amplats - 229,400 Ounces
Despite refined rhodium output declining over 20 percent from 2013, Anglo American Platinum Ltd ('Amplats') remained the world's largest refiner of the metal, accounting for almost one-quarter of global production.
Amplats operates eight mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe and is the world's largest refiner of platinum and second largest producer of palladium. Ore from the company's mines is smelted at one of Amplats' three refineries in South Africa.
The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa and is traded on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
Implats - 157,000 Ounces
Heavily impacted by the six-month strike in South African, Impala Platinum (Implats) saw its rhodium output decline by about 30 percent from 2013.
Implats around the Bushveld Complex in South Africa and the Great Dyke region of Zimbabwe.
These ores, as well as material from third-party sources, are processed at the company's smelter, Impala Refining Services (IRS), just outside Johannesburg.
Norilsk Nickel - 91,000 Ounces
Norilsk Nickel, which extracts the majority of its platinum group metals from nickel ores mined in northern Russia, was able to increase rhodium production by over 10 percent in 2014 in response to the shortage of material from South Africa.
Refining above ground rhodium-rich material allowed Norilsk to capitalize on the supply shortage.
Lonmin - 78,400 Ounces
Another South African-based PGM miner, Lonmin Plc's Marikana operations are located on the western side of the Bushveld Complex.
Despite the workers' strike, Lonmin only experienced a slight decline in rhodium output between 2013 and 2014, from 80,900 ounces to 78,400 thousand ounces.
Lonmin processes PGM ores at its Marikana smelter before they are sent for separation. Base metals are extracted, alongside platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, and iridium.
African Rainbow Minerals - 35,227 Ounces
African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) is a diversified mining company based in South Africa active in the iron ore, manganese, chrome, PGM, copper, nickel, and coal sectors.
The company's rhodium is extracted from three joint venture operations: (1) the Modikwa Mine (41.5% ownership), a joint venture with Amplats, (2) the Two Rivers mine (55% ownership, a joint venture with Implats, and (3), the Nkomati mine (50 % ownership), operated alongside Norilsk Nickel Africa.
ARM's attributable rhodium production reach an estimated 35,000 ounces in 2014, up slightly from the year previous.
Stillwater Mining - 33,700 Ounces
The largest producer of platinum and palladium outside of South Africa and Russia, Stillwater Mining Company is the only US-based miner of PGMs.
The company's rhodium production, however, is completely dependent upon spent catalytic converters and other recyclable materials. These are treated at a smelter in Columbus, Montana.
In 2014, Stillwater's refined rhodium output declined roughly 30 percent to 33,700 ounces as a result of limited access to recyclable materials. The company's average realized price for rhodium also fell slightly to US$ 1059 per troy ounce.
Northam Platinum - 31,000 Ounces
Northam Platinum is another South African PGM producer with its operations focused on the Bushveld Complex.
Rhodium production at Northam was not as severely impacted by the 2014 strike as a result of most of the company's workers not being affiliated with the striking unions.
Consequently, rhodium sales increased to 31,000 ounces, up from just over 25,000 in 2013. This pushed Northam up one position, past Aquarius Platinum, on the top 10 rhodium producers list for the year.
Note: Production numbers for Northam Platinum are based on company sales per metal.
Aquarius Platinum - 28,324 Ounces
Aquarius Platinum operates two joint ventures in the Bushveld Complex: the Kroondal and Mimosa mines.
The Kroondal mine is a 50:50 pool and share agreement with Amplats, the world's largest platinum and rhodium producer. While the Mimosa mine is a 50:50 joint venture with second largest rhodium producer, Impala.
Aquarius also runs the Platinum Mile retreatment facility where platinum group metals are extracted from tailings and waste material from platinum and chrome mines.
Note: Palladium production numbers for Aquarius Platinum are based on production attributable to the company.
Glencore - 15,000 Ounces
A major producer of copper and zinc, Glencore extracts PGMs from the Eland and Mototolo mines in South Africa, as well as from nickel sulfide ores mined in Canada's Sudbury basin.
Both South African mines were acquired following Glencore's merger with Xstrata in 2013. The Mototolo mine is operated as a joint venture between Glencore and Amplats.
The company reported 15,000 ounces of rhodium production in 2014, unchanged from a year prior.