Palladium is a rare element, exhibiting a lustrous silvery-white color much like platinum. It was discovered in 1803 by William Hyde Wollaston. He named the element after the asteroid Pallas, one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System. Palladium’s most common usage is in catalytic converters, which convert toxic compounds into more benign substances. Other uses of palladium include dentistry, jewelry making, electronics and medicine. Combine the numerous uses of palladium with its limited supply from mining and you can see why it’s valuable.
Palladium is one of four metals to be assigned an ISO currency code (XPD and 964). The other three metals are of course gold, silver and platinum. Investing in palladium is done via purchasing palladium bullion coins and bars. Palladium coins include the Canadian Maple Leaf and the Chinese Panda coins. Currently, there are no US palladium coins. On May 15, 2008, the House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing the minting and issuing of “a $20 coin that bears, on the obverse and reverse, the designs of the famous 27-millimeter version of the 1907 Augustus Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle ultra-high relief gold piece.” However, the Senate never passed the bill.
Price of palladium is mostly affected by the demand of the auto industry for catalytic converters as well as availability of the metal. Global demand in the automobile industry has risen 5% so far this year and the demand for palladium is rising in the energy field as well, particularly in natural gas and shale oil exploration, because it is a vital element in petrochemical plants in the processing of shale gas. The last few years have seen prices fall, mostly due to the Russian government selling off surplus stockpiles that built up during the Soviet Union era.
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