Platinum group metals gaining ground in Australia where PGMs have critical status

31 October 2022
Article by Mining Weekly

Exploration and resources development company Podium Minerals is continuing to blaze a trail in platinum group metals (PGMs) in Australia, where PGMs have been classified as critical minerals, which is also the case the US, Japan, India and the Eurozone.

ASX-listed Podium on Monday announced a new mineral resource estimate (MRE), which doubles to six-million ounces five element platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, and gold at the company’s wholly owned Parks Reef PGM project in Western Australia.

“It’s deeply satisfying to see this significant upgrade to our MRE,” Podium CEO Sam Rodda stated in a release to Mining Weekly.

Podium is planning to become Australia’s first PGMs producer, beginning at Parks Reef, which is a 15-km-long PGMs deposit open at depth.

The orebody commences near surface and to date has been identified to continue to a vertical depth of about 500 m.

A concept mining study supports opencast and underground mining options. Flotation test work on targeted primary sulphide mineralisation shows similarities to Southern African sulphide PGM ores.

In its latest presentation, Podium highlights how PGMs are often alloyed together and substituted for one another to provide temperature stability, corrosion resistance, catalytic capacity and durability.

Besides PGMs being forecast to have increased loadings in autocatalysts and fuel cells to meet new emission reduction targets, their being at the heart of hydrogen economy and energy transition is also reiterated, along with industrial applications for PGMs in speciality glass manufacturing and jet engines that require stability at high temperatures.

Pointed out as being supply negative are PGM mines deepening in South Africa and diversification away from Russia.

Critical Mineral Classification

To be classified as critical, a mineral must be found to be essential for the functioning of modern technology as well as national security, with PGMs fitting the bill as a result of substitution with non-PGMs being rare or unknown for most industrial applications.

Australian production of PGMs was a small 0.522 t in 2020 compared with world production from countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, North America and Russia producing a combined 380 t.

Parks Reef PGM resource being developed is 80 km west of Meekatharra, in Western Australia’s mid-west region, where existing regional infrastructure includes highway, port and airport support.