Platinum

Platinum is the rarest and most expensive of the popular precious metals. It is much rarer then Gold. Due to its rarity and value, it is not readily available to mineral collectors and is seldom represented in in all but the highest-end mineral collections.

Platinum is a precious metal that is used in catalytic converters, jewelry, watches, as a currency and lends its name to credit cards and music awards. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious, gray-white transition metal.

Platinum is a member of the platinum group of elements and group 10 of the periodic table of elements. It has six naturally occurring isotopes. It is one of the rarer elements in Earth's crust with an average abundance of approximately 5 μg/kg. It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production. Because of its scarcity in Earth's crust, only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, so, given its important uses, it is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity.

Few Basics to know about Platinum:

  • Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78.
  • The name platinum comes from the Spanish word 'platina' which means "little silver".
  • Platinum is a dense, malleable (can be thinned), ductile (can be stretched), shiny gray-white transition metal that is rare enough to be deemed a precious metal.
  • Platinum can be found chemically un-combined in its native form. Because of this pre-Columbian South American natives used platinum found in the alluvial sands of various rivers to produce artifacts of a white gold-platinum alloy.
  • Platinum was first mentioned in European writings by Italian Julius Caesar Scaliger in 1557 BC.
  • The melting point of platinum is 3,215 °F (1,768.4 °C) and the boiling point is 6,917 °F (3,825 °C).
  • Native deposits of platinum are rare and difficult to locate, South Africa accounts for 80% of the Worlds production.
  • Alluvial deposits are also mined from the Ural Mountains, Russia.
  • Platinum can also be produced commercially as a by-product of nickel refined from copper and nickel ores.
  • Nearly half of all platinum produced is used in catalytic converters, these are devices which control harmful vehicle emissions.
  • Platinum's resistance to tarnish and corrosion as well as its silver-like shine and extreme rarity make it ideal for making jewelry and its second largest usage.
  • Watchmakers use platinum for producing limited edition watch series.
  • Like the other main precious metals gold and silver, platinum is used as currency and investment.
  • The commodity is traded and collected in the form of coins, bars, ingots and jewelry.
  • Other uses of platinum include in oxygen sensors, spark plugs, turbine engines dentistry equipment and dental crowns, as an anti-tumor agent, to make standard weights and measures, and to make powerful magnets.
  • Platinum's rarity as a metal means the word is often associated with wealth, value and exclusivity making it a very marketable word widely used by advertisers. "Platinum" awards, credit cards and music album sales are seen as of a higher rank than "gold", "silver" and "bronze" but lower than "diamond".
  • Meteorites and our moon have a higher percentage of platinum than Earth.

 

Basic Information

Name: Platinum
Symbol: Pt
Atomic Number 78
Atomic Mass: 195.078 amu
Melting Point: 1772.0 °C (2045.15 K, 3221.6 °F)
Boiling Point: 3827.0 °C (4100.15 K, 6920.6 °F)
Number of Protons/Electrons 78
Number of Neutrons 117
Classification Transition Metal
Crystal Structure: Cubic  
Density @ 293 K: 21.45 g/cm3
Color Silverish
CAS number 7440-06-4
   
Number of Energy Levels: 6
First Energy Level 2
Second Energy Level 8
Third Energy Level 18
Fourth Energy Level 32
Fifth Energy Level 17
Sixth Energy Level 1
Date of Discovery 1735
Discoverer Julius Scaliger
Name Origin From the Spanish word platina (little silver)
Uses Jewelry, containers, catalyst
Obtained From Platinum ores
   
Composition Platinum, with small amounts of other elements such as iron, copper, nickel, gold, or rare earth elements
Variable Formula (Pt,Fe,Ir,Os,Rh,Pd,Au,Cu,Ni)
Color Tin-white, silver-gray, steel-gray, dark gray
Streak Silver-gray. Streak is shiny
Hardness 4 - 4.5
Crystal System Isometric
Crystal Forms

and Aggregates

.

Crystals, which are cubic, often have rounded corners and may be fairly distorted. Crystals may also form penetration twins. Most often occurs as small water-worn nuggets, usually with small holes throughout. Also flaky, as small grains, encrusting, and occasionally in dendrites
Transparency Opaque
Specific Gravity 14 – 19
Luster Metallic
Cleavage None
Fracture Hackly
Tenacity Ductile : Capable of being stretched into a thin wire

Malleable : able to be pounded into thin sheets.

Other ID Marks 1) May be slightly attracted to magnetic fields.

2) Excellent conductor of electricity.

Complex Tests Soluble only in aqua regia
In Group Native Elements; Metallic Elements
Striking Features Extreme heaviness, lack of tarnish, great malleability and ductility, and possible weak attraction to magnetic fields
Environment Most often in placer deposits. The primary occurrence is in plutonic rocks such as Olivine.
Rock Type Igneous, Sedimentary
Popularity (1-4) 1
Prevalence (1-3) 3
Demand (1-3) 1
Isotopes
Isotope Half Life
Pt-188 10.2 days
Pt-190 6.0E11 years
Pt-191 2.96 days
Pt-192 Stable
Pt-193 60.0 years
Pt-193m 4.33 days
Pt-194 Stable
Pt-195 Stable
Pt-195m 4.02 days
Pt-196 Stable
Pt-197 18.3 hours
Pt-197m 1.59 hours
Pt-198 Stable
   

 

   
   

 

Prime Deposits:

Russia is the most important producer of Platinum specimens, producing fine nuggets along a north-south belt along the spine of the Ural Mountains. The districts producing the largest specimens are Nizhniy-Tagil in Sverdlovsk Oblast; and the Is River in Perm Kraj. In far-east Russia, the Konder Massif near Nekl'kan, in Khabarovskiy Kraj is especially known for its exceptional cubic and twinned crystals. Two other Russian Platinum localities are the Talnakh District, in the Norilisk District in Siberia; and Ledayanoy Ruchey, Koriak, in the Kamchatka Peninsula.

The world's largest deposit of Platinum is in the Merensky Reef in the Bushveld Complex, South Africa, though few specimens from South Africa ever make it to the mineral market. Colombia has produced fine placer nuggets in Choco Department, in the San Juan and Atrato Rivers near Papayan. In Australia, Platinum nuggets have been found in the Fifield District of Cunningham and Kennedy Counties, New South Wales.

In the U.S., the only commercially producing Platinum mines are in the Stillwater Complex in Stillwater, Sweetwater, and Park Counties, Montana. Alaska has produced Platinum nuggets in a few placer deposits. Platinum also is found in the placer deposits of Trinity Co., California. Another U.S. locality is Cape Blanco, Curry Co., Oregon.

The only active Platinum mine in Canada is the Lac des Iles Mine, near Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is mined primarily for palladium. In British Columbia, small nuggets come from the Tulameen and Similkameen Rivers and their tributaries near Princeton.

History

Probably the oldest worked specimen of platinum is that from an ancient Egyptian casket of the 7th century BC, unearthed at Thebes and dedicated to Queen Shapenapit. Otherwise this metal was unknown in Europe and Asia for the next two millennia, although on the Pacific coast of South America, there were people able to work platinum, as shown by burial goods dating back 2000 years. In 1557 an Italian scholar, Julius Scaliger, wrote of a metal from Spanish Central America that could not be made to melt and was no doubt platinum. Then, in 1735, Antonio Ulloa encountered this curious metal, but as he returned to Europe his ship was captured by the Royal Navy and he ended up in London. There, members of the Royal Society were most interested to hear about the new metal, and by the 1750s, platinum was being reported and discussed throughout Europe.