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Rhodium Prices Rally in Response to Clean Air Legislation

Environmental legislation increases the demand for rhodium, a precious metal used in electroplating as well as catalytic converters.
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Platers who use rhodium will see prices soaring due to a dramatic rally. Used in catalytic converters, the niche precious metal is seeing a sharp rise in demand in response to clean air legislation. Meanwhile, the supply chain for rhodium has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Benchmark prices for rhodium are up to $17,790, according to this Financial Times article.

Rhodium is used in conjunction with platinum and palladium to absorb emissions from car exhausts, so automakers are scrambling to secure their supplies. While platinum and palladium can be replaced with substitutions, rhodium is incredibly efficient at removing nitrogen oxides, so it can’t be easily substituted. As regulations tighten around automotive emissions in the EU and China, more rhodium is being used per vehicle. 2020 also saw a significant decrease in supply, with about 25% less rhodium available and no obvious, immediate solution. In the long-term, wider adoption of electric vehicles may help, as they do not require exhaust or the catalyst to remove nitrogen oxides. 

Used in jewelry and technical specialty electroplating, rhodium is valued because it does not oxidize. It is inert against corrosion and many aggressive chemicals. Platers can expect the price to stay near this record-high for the foreseeable future.

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