The theft of catalytic converters from car exhausts is mounting as the price of platinum group metals (PGMs) hit record highs.

Three to seven grams of platinum group metals (PGMs) — mostly platinum, palladium and rhodium – go in every catalytic converter, which sit in your car exhaust to reduce polluting emissions.

They look something like this:

Pic: Getty.

You crack the outer casing open to get to the good part, filled with PGEs like platinum, palladium and rhodium:

Pic: Mt. Baker Mining and Metals (mbmmllc), YouTube

Three to seven grams per convertor means you need a minimum of five catalytic convertors and a near-flawless extraction/recovery process to score one ounce of PGMs.

But that ounce – depending on the metal mix — could be worth a lot.

Platinum sells for $US1,155.53/oz, which is chump change next to palladium ($US2,368.60) and rhodium ($US25,500/oz).

Just check out these spicy 20-year price charts for palladium and rhodium:

If you’re think about going into the second-hand catalytic convertor business, omens are good.

Metals Focus predicts palladium prices will hit all times highs above $US2,750/oz in 2021.

Why? Nine straight years of ever-enlarging supply deficits.

The gap between mine production and consumption in 2020 alone was about 1 million ounces of palladium.

That’s why palladium has been holding up strongly in the high $US2,400s at a time when other precious metals, like gold, have come under some price pressure.


Who’s finding PGEs the honest way?

Zimbabwe-based Zimplats (ASX:ZIM) is the only ASX-listed PGE producer. In the December quarter it produced 67,000oz platinum, 57,500oz of palladium and 6000oz of rhodium at a total 6E cash cost of $US648/oz.

That’s a nice profit, based on current prices.

But world class PGE deposits – especially the palladium dominated ones — are extremely hard to find.

That’s what makes Chalice Mining’s (ASX:CHN) Julimar deposit in WA – which the company calls “Australia’s first major palladium discovery” — so special.

Numerous explorers are in the neighbourhood actively hunting for a palladium payday of their own.

They include Cassini/Caspin ResourcesDevEx Resources (ASX:DEV),  Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR)Mandrake Resources (ASX:MAN)Anson Resources (ASX:ASN)Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL)Lachlan Star (ASX:LSA) and Lithium Australia (ASX:LIT) … just to name a few.

The other palladium-rich explorer on the ASX is Impact Minerals (ASX:IPT), which is focused on the Broken Hill project in NSW.