Where is platinum found? As one of the rarest commodities, platinum is in high demand, and miners have looked for this precious metal in ore, alluvial deposits and even in craters.
Platinum in ore.
One of the most common ways in which platinum is found is in ore. Platinum typically mingles with other minerals in ore deposits, and it is then separated out through an extensive mining and refining process. Platinum typically isn't the primary objective in most mining operations; instead, it's a by-product of mining other types of minerals. However, platinum is extremely rare and valuable, especially relative to some of the other minerals found in the same ore, so it's typically worthwhile to undertake the refining process to produce platinum.
Platinum in alluvial deposits.
In addition to mineral ores, platinum is also sometimes found in alluvial deposits. Alluvial deposits are sands and gravels that accumulate on a river's flood plains. The river transports these sands containing the platinum, and then deposits them on the flood plain. Platinum in alluvial deposits may require less refining than platinum in ores, since it is found closer to a natural state.
Open pits versus underground.
Depending on the region and the way in which platinum is found, it may reside in open pits or underground mining operations. Either of these operations may include platinum as a by-product, or platinum as a primary product. Some regions are ideally suited to open-pit strip mining, while others contain platinum deposits in ores found deep underground. Different platinum locations and forms require different mining techniques.
Countries where platinum is found.
Platinum appears all over the world. Platinum-producing countries include Zimbabwe, Russia, Canada, the United States and parts of South Africa. South Africa is the largest producer of platinum, followed by Russia. Some platinum-producing sites, such as the Ural Mountains in Russia, have been stripped of their best ore and are now only small producers. Other sites, such as the Great Dyke in Zimbabwe, are fairly new sources and virtually untapped, and they are likely to account for large quantities of platinum production in the future, pending political struggles.
Craters and moon rocks.
Believe it or not, platinum is found in greater quantities in and around craters and in moon rocks. The increased instances of platinum in craters seem to be unrelated to general platinum quantities in the surrounding area. Even areas not known for producing platinum ores or large quantities of platinum show an increased presence of platinum in crater sites, making it worthwhile to investigate these locations.