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Journal Archive

Platinum Metals Rev., 1995, 39, (3), 116

A Comprehensive Commentary on the Platinum Metals

The Platinum Group Metals: A Global Perspective By C. F. Vermaak, Mintek, South Africa, 1995, 247 pages, U.S.$100.00, ISBN 0-86999-926-5

  • A.J.C.

Frank Vermaak, a prominent South African geologist, has undertaken the daunting task of writing a comprehensive overview of the geology, production and consumption of the platinum group metals. His aim is to provide a down-to-earth review, accessible to a wide audience, of all aspects on the platinum group metals and to suggest future developments.

With his long experience in the platinum industry, Dr Vermaak is ideally placed to provide a thorough review of world resources and production of platinum group metals; and he devotes the first half of the book to this, outlining the occurrence of these metals in deposits across the world. He then considers output by producer, and concludes with a discussion of the technical issues involved in mining, bene-ficiation and refining. Much of this section concentrates upon South Africa, but there is also extensive information on platinum group metal resources and production in the U.S.A., Canada, China and Australia. This section performs a valuable service in bringing together information on smaller producers which, because of their relative insignificance in terms of total world supply, are not often reviewed elsewhere. He also includes a long discussion of platinum group metals deposits and output in Russia, although he admits that “vital data on tonnage and grade remain pretty much guesswork”.

One chapter examines the marketing, distribution, trading and pricing of platinum group metals, especially up to 1992, with graphs showing the long-term price trends. Dr Vermaak also discusses trends in world consumption of platinum group metals between 1981 and 1992, providing detailed tables of usage by region and by application.

The latter part of the book provides an introduction to the many applications of the platinum group metals. One chapter discusses catalysis, and covers development and manufacture of autocatalysts and reviews environmental legislation. However, due to the extended timescale required for the production of such an ambitious treatise, Stage II European Union emissions standards and the improvements in catalyst technology which have permitted increased use of palladium in autocatalysts are not mentioned. Another chapter deals with chemical, glass and electronic applications.

Finally, Dr Vermaak examines future demand and supply of the platinum group metals. He devotes a chapter to the prospects for significant platinum usage in fuel cells; there is detailed discussion of the different types of cell, their potential applications, and progress towards commercialisation. The book ends with an examination of the social, political and economic factors influencing the oudook for demand and supply, concentrating upon the impact of the political changes in South Africa and Russia.

“The Platinum Group Metals“ is a valuable addition to the literature on this subject. It should prove particularly useful for the reader seeking an expert overview of the background, geology and resources, and the uses to which the platinum group metals are put.