The six metals of the platinum group (pgm) occur in nature in close association with one another and with nickel and copper. They are among the least abundant of the Earth's elements. Of the few known deposits, those in South Africa and Russia are by far the largest. There are fewer than ten significant pgm mining companies in the world.
Platinum and palladium have the greatest economic importance and are found in the largest quantities. The other four pgm - rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium - are produced as co-products of platinum and palladium.
South Africa is the largest producer of platinum. Mining platinum from the Bushveld Complex began in 1925 with palladium and rhodium as by-products
Russia is the largest producer of palladium. Norilsk Nickel began producing copper and nickel in 1935 with palladium and platinum as by-products.
Canada has produced pgm as by-products of nickel mining since 1908. Stillwater in the USA is a palladium-rich mine which began production in 1987.
Platinum was discovered in the rocks of the Great Dyke in 1918, but significant output from this extensive resource only began in the 1990s.
Comprehensive estimates of the platinum and palladium resources of the Bushveld Igneous Complex, by Professor R. Grant Cawthorn.