Rhodium: Catch-Up Potential?

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"Rhodium is finite and the rarest of the precious metals."

Is there a way of still accessing the precious metals complex at relatively good prices? Perhaps. I have never paid much attention to the lesser known of the platinum group metals (PGMs), namely rhodium, but playing around with some commodity charts on Global InfoMine caused me to focus on this somewhat unknown metal. The chart below highlights how severe the rhodium's 2008 plunge was and how "tame" the subsequent recovery has been, at least when compared with other precious metals.

Rhodium

In an attempt to gain some knowledge of rhodium, I gathered the following information (mostly from a Goldcore article on Seeking Alpha):
  • Rhodium's primary use is in catalytic converters in automobiles. Supply deficits caused the price spike to $10,000 in 2008, followed by a 90% decline due to the plunge in car sales during the "Great Recession."

  • The current price of rhodium is $2,400 compared with a recession low of $1,000 and an average nominal price over the last 40 years of approximately $1,500/oz.

  • Rhodium is finite and the rarest of the precious metals—the annual production of rhodium is roughly 1/100th that of gold. (In 2009, 25 tons of rhodium was produced, 2,350 tons of gold and 200 tons of platinum.)

  • The U.S. and European automobile industries are the largest consumers of rhodium, but it is expected that China, India and other emerging markets will in future be the driving force of demand.

  • Rhodium is mined together with the other PGMs; South Africa produces more than 80% of annual supply.
It certainly would seem that rhodium is worth a second look, especially if one is bullish on precious metals and believes in urbanization as a major secular theme.

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