The Mineral platinum
Platinum is the rarest and most expensive of the popular precious metals. It is much rarer then Gold. Due to its rarity and value, it is not readily available to mineral collectors and is seldom represented in in all but the highest-end mineral collections.
Natural Platinum is fairly impure. It is always associated with small amounts of other elements such as iron, gold, copper, and nickel, and may also contain the rare metals iridium, osmium, rhodium, and palladium. These impurities can lower its specific gravity to as much as 14, whereas pure elemental platinum is 21.4. Most Platinum specimens contain traces of iron, which may cause it to be slightly attracted to magnetic fields.
For additional information, see the gemstone section on Platinum.
Tin-white, silver-gray, steel-gray, dark gray
Silver-gray. Streak is shiny.
4 - 4.5
14 - 19
Ductile and Malleable
|Other ID Marks
1) May be slightly attracted to magnetic fields.
2) Excellent conductor of electricity.
Platinum is an exquisite precious metal used in jewelry as ring settings, bracelets, and necklaces. Platinum jewelry is rare, beautiful, and durable, and is therefore highly regarded.
Native Platinum is the most significant source of the element platinum, although considerable quantities are also mined from the rare platinum arsenide mineral Sperrylite. The rare metals iridium, osmium, rhodium, and palladium are almost exclusively mined together with platinum in platinum deposits.
Platinum has a number of industrial uses due to its special properties. Its most famous use is as a catalyst, (a widely used anti-pollution device), especially in the manufacturing of cars. It is also used for numerous laboratory apparatuses and as dental fillings.
Platinum is rare, with few noteworthy occurrences. Russia is the most important producer of Platinum specimens, producing fine nuggets along a north-south belt along the spine of the Ural Mountains. The districts producing the largest specimens are Nizhniy-Tagil in Sverdlovsk Oblast; and the Is River in Perm Kraj. In far-east Russia, the Konder Massif near Nekl'kan, in Khabarovskiy Kraj is especially known for its exceptional cubic and twinned crystals. Two other Russian Platinum localities are the Talnakh District, in the Norilisk District in Siberia; and Ledayanoy Ruchey, Koriak, in the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The world's largest deposit of Platinum is in the Merensky Reef in the Bushveld Complex, South Africa, though few specimens from South Africa ever make it to the mineral market. Colombia has produced fine placer nuggets in Choco Department, in the San Juan and Atrato Rivers near Papayan. In Australia, Platinum nuggets have been found in the Fifield District of Cunningham and Kennedy Counties, New South Wales.
In the U.S., the only commercially producing Platinum mines are in the Stillwater Complex in Stillwater, Sweetwater, and Park Counties, Montana (specifically at the Stillwater Mine near Nye, and the East Boulder Mine, south of McLeod). Alaska has produced Platinum nuggets in a few placer deposits, and those from the Salmon River in Goodnews Bay (especially at Fox Gulch) have made their way to collections. Platinum also is found in the placer deposits of Trinity Co., California. Another U.S. locality is Cape Blanco, Curry Co., Oregon.
The only active Platinum mine in Canada is the Lac des Iles Mine, near Thunder Bay, Ontario, which is mined primarily for palladium. In British Columbia, small nuggets come from the Tulameen and Similkameen Rivers and their tributaries near Princeton.
Distingushing Similar Minerals
Silver - Softer (2½ - 3), less dense (9.6 - 12), tarnishes
Iron-nickel- Less dense (7.3 - 7.8), very strongly attracted to magnetic fields.