Rhodium (Rh) is a somewhat unknown precious metal owing to its global demand being consolidated in auto-catalysts applications where it finds use in tiny amounts alongside similar PGMs palladium and platinum. It is a silvery-white metallic element with strong corrosion resistance and high reflectivity. It is the rarest and most precious metal worldwide. It converts NOx into harmless gases.
Rhodium is primarily used in catalytic converters for cars (80%) as it lowers the levels of nitrogen oxides in exhaust gases. Furthermore, it also finds application as a catalyst in the chemical industry for carrying out the production of nitric acid, acetic acid and other hydrogenation reactions. In addition, it is used to coat optic fibres, optical mirrors, thermocouple elements, crucibles, and headlight reflectors. Also, owing to its low electrical resistance and high corrosion resistance, it is used as an electrical contact material.
Rhodium Production from The PGM Ore:
Rhodium metal is extracted from its ore. It is produced as a by-product of the refining of the platinum group of metals (PGM). At first, the noble metal’s precipitation is carried out from the PGM ore. Next, this residue gets treated with sodium bisulfate and then melted in order to form rhodium sulfate. Later, Rhodium sulphate with sodium hydroxide gets treated, leading to the formation of rhodium hydroxide. Further, hydrochloric acid is added to rhodium hydroxide resulting in a purified acid solution of rhodium(H3RhCl6). In this solution, Sodium nitrite and ammonium chloride are included, which leads to its precipitation. Finally, the derived Rhodium precipitate gets dissolved and heated in hydrochloric acid; this burning gets rid of any impurities, thus yielding purified rhodium metal.
Rhodium Price Trend Volatility
Rhodium is the best catalytic metal for cutting emissions of NOx and still is a vital element of three-way catalysts for gasoline vehicles, where demand is substantial. Hence, the demand for rhodium might increase. But persisting weak platinum market could lead to further cuts in primary rhodium supplies; however, more recycling will help with the scarcity. The demand for rhodium has suffered in gasoline and diesel powertrains.
Automakers are shifting towards selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology from heavy-duty vehicles and reducing it for cars. The SCRs are pricier and require maintenance (urea top-ups) but have a lesser impact on fuel efficiency (and so CO2 emissions) in comparison to LNTs. The price volatility for rhodium leads to loadings being cut to the least possible, and thereby palladium replacing some rhodium.
Smaller Platinum Surplus, Palladium, And Rhodium Deficits Predicted
A platinum market surplus might shrink this year, with the rhodium and palladium markets likely to go into deficit. All three metals find application in autocatalysts that reduce vehicle engine emissions. The tight palladium and rhodium supply have led to an all-time price increase. It was uncertain how much metal could make it to the Russian market, which is a significant producer.
The low automobile production as a result of a semiconductor shortage would hamper demand in 2022, although supply is also under pressure as South African output is anticipated to fall.
The risen palladium and rhodium prices have led to a major thrifting by Chinese automakers. Automakers cannot determine the total amount of metal they use in the current year. Still, if the Russia-Ukraine situation continues, they might have some flexibility to replace it faster than planned.
Key Players in the Rhodium Industry as per 2022
The major players in the industry are implementing various tactics in order to propel their brand value and also employ efficient strategies to gain profit.
• Anglo American Platinum Limited
• Impala Platinum Holdings Limited
• Sibanye Stillwater Limited
• Zimplats Holdings Ltd.
• Artemis Resources Limited
• Eastern Platinum Limited
• Umicore N.V
• Russian Platinum
• Johnson Matthey
• BASF SE
• E Buddy Recyclers
According to the blog by Procurement Resource, the market dynamic for rhodium is highly volatile. The majority of the precious metal finds use in the automobile sector owing to its function of converting NOx into harmless gases. However, the tight palladium and rhodium supply have led to an all-time price increase and the low automobile production as a result of a semiconductor shortage would hamper demand in 2022. Furthermore, Automakers are shifting towards selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology from heavy-duty vehicles and reducing it for cars which is further jeopardizing the demand for the metal.
Hence, the sourcing and procurement of such precious metals are absolutely vital across many industry verticals giving rise to the need for a leading team of industry experts like Procurement Resource that caters to all your procurement-related needs.
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