PGEs - lots of resources companies talk about them. But what are they?
PGE stands for Platinum group elements - a group of six precious metal elements clustered together on the periodic table. Have you ever found yourself scanning a mining announcement, seen the abbreviation PGE or PGEs, and struggled to wrap your head around what the company is actually looking for? You’re not alone - some announcements don’t even explain the term! PGE stands for platinum group elements - it is a group of six noble, precious metal elements huddled together on the periodic table, and takes its name from one of those metals: platinum (the others are palladium, rhodium, iridium, osmium and ruthenium). Noble metals are considered noble because they demonstrate outstanding resistance to chemical attack even at high temperatures - other noble metals include gold and silver. What makes them precious is their relative scarcity in the earth’s crust; they are valuable, hence why many resources companies, including ASX superstar stock Chalice Mining Ltd (ASX:CHN) (OTCMKTS:CGMLF), are looking for them. Usage and value PGEs have many desirable properties and as such have a wide variety of applications. Most notably, they are used as auto-catalysts (pollution control devices for vehicles), but are also used in jewellery, electronics and hydrogen fuel cells. Each of the six precious metals has its own supply and demand, resulting in different prices for each - osmium is so rare, and so rarely used, that it is not regularly traded; hence its price has fluctuated around US$400 an ounce since the 1990s. Platinum and palladium both find more common use than the others, but both iridium and ruthenium have experienced significant price increases in 2021. Across the board, the platinum group metals have been experiencing a strong run of late. Rhodium has skyrocketed in the past two years, up 164%, and though it has fallen from its record highs in April, it is still significantly higher than it has ever traded. What’s driving the value? As described above, PGE consumption is closely aligned with the global shift towards greener and cleaner energy technology and stricter emissions standards, which is being driven in particular by the automotive sector. Global science and chemicals company Johnson Matthey expects 2021 automotive demand for PGEs to increase by 13% to in excess of 13 million ounces. Demand for industrial applications is likely to hold strong, and demand from chemical manufacturers could reach a "new all-time peak" in 2021, Johnson Matthey said. COVID-19 also impacted miners looking to find PGEs globally, with production taking a 17% hit in South Africa, the world’s biggest producer of several PGEs. PGEs are however expected to remain in short supply this year, so with demand increasing, there is a strong prospect prices could continue to rise further. Aussie hopefuls Chalice leads the pack, thanks to a monstrous 2020 in which its shares skyrocketed by as much as 1,671%. That was thanks to its 100%-owned Julimar Nickel-Copper-PGE Project in Western Australia, where earlier in 2020 it made a nickel-copper-PGE discovery in an emerging new resources province about an hour northeast of Perth. Just a week ago, a ground gravity survey and reconnaissance soil sampling has identified several extensive nickel-copper+/-palladium soil anomalies with gravity highs and, in some cases, coincident with airborne EM anomalies at Baudin, Jansz and new Drummond targets at the northern end of the Julimar Complex. Based on the soil and gravity results at Baudin, Jansz and Drummond, initial first-pass MLEM lines are planned over the coming weeks. This program aims to define drill-ready targets and is anticipated to be completed by the end of June. Infill soil sampling will also be completed over the new targets. Additionally, environmental surveys have been completed at the Hartog Target in preparation for initial drill testing, which is planned for late Q3 2021, subject to access approvals. And the company is continuing its ~160,000-metre step-out and resource definition drill program at the Gonneville discovery with seven rigs (three RC and four diamond) currently drilling. Early-stage economic studies are also continuing. Oar Resources Ltd (ASX:OAR) (FRA:F1S) has recently raised $2.3 million, which will help fund exploration across multiple projects in the second half of 2021, including its Crown PGE Nickel-Copper Project, which just happens to also be in Julimar, Western Australia. Blackstone Minerals Ltd (ASX:BSX) (OTCMKTS:BLSTF) (FRA:B9S) is keeping a close eye on the rising PGE metal prices, following preliminary hydrometallurgical test-work on pre-feasibility study (PFS) pressure oxidation (POX) residues from its Ta Khoa Project in Vietnam, which demonstrated excellent recoveries of PGEs including palladium, platinum and rhodium. Caspin Resources Ltd (ASX:CPN) last week discovered several new PGE-nickel-copper soil anomalies in areas with no previous PGE-nickel-copper exploration at its Yarawindah Brook Project in Western Australia. Aldoro Resources Ltd (ASX:ARN) will conduct moving-loop transient electromagnetic (MLTEM) surveys at its flagship Narndee Nickel-PGE Project in the remaining weeks of June, as two drill-ready targets raise hopes for the project’s potential.Full Article