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What is palladium used for other than as an investment asset? Since 1989, the primary use for palladium has been in catalytic converters for fossil fuel and hybrid vehicles, which accounts for around 80% of demand. Palladium catalysts trap hazardous emissions when an engine burns fuel.

The metal is also used in small volumes in the electronics and medical industries as well as for fine jewellery as an alternative to platinum. Palladium’s abnormal capacity to absorb hydrogen – 900 times higher than its own volume – makes it extremely valuable for the nuclear industry.

Palladium usage in the automotive industry has grown as various countries have introduced strict carbon emission standards. But the rollout of electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to erode demand as they do not use catalysts.

Where is palladium found?

Palladium is mined along with the other platinum group metals in small quantities in a few parts of the world. PGMs are extracted as by-products of nickel and copper processing. Where can palladium be found? There are five producing countries that account for 98% of global palladium production:

  • South Africa
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • US
  • Zimbabwe

Russia accounted for 37% of global palladium production in 2021, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). That drove palladium prices close to record highs in response to the war between Russia and Ukraine. South Africa, which has the world’s largest palladium reserves, produced 40% of global supply in 2021.