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BASF has successfully developed and tested an innovative Tri-Metal Catalyst technology that enables partial substitution of high-priced palladium with lower-priced platinum in light-duty gasoline vehicles without compromising emissions standards.

Adoption of the Tri-Metal Catalyst reduces catalytic converter costs for automakers and partially rebalance market demand for PGMs, thereby enhancing PGM market sustainability. “We are excited to announce the successful outcome of this collaboration with Sibanye-Stillwater and Impala Platinum to develop this new technology,” said Matthias Dohrn, senior vice president for precious and base metal services at BASF.

To date, this new technology has successfully met technical customer specifications during extensive development and testing undertaken by BASF. “The Tri-Metal Catalyst is intended to create greater supply certainty for our customers and potentially reduce their costs,” added Dohrn.

Slightly more palladium is produced annually than platinum. However, current demand for palladium from the automotive catalytic converter industry is about three times more than the demand for platinum. This structural deficit in the palladium market has resulted in sustained market deficits in palladium. This contrasts sharply with ongoing platinum market surpluses.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said that the company was committed to investing in market development opportunities that will meaningfully ensure the sustainability of the PGM industry for the benefit of all stakeholders, including end users of metals.

The increase in the palladium demand is in large part being caused by a market imbalance from tightening emission regulations in China, Europe and India, and a market shift from light-duty diesel to light-duty gasoline vehicles in Europe. This is resulting in higher costs for automakers. “Having co-invested in this research with BASF and Impala Platinum to proactively supply our customers with a timely solution to the anticipated palladium deficits we are currently experiencing, we are delighted with the availability of this technology,” Froneman added.

From Implats view point, CEO Nico Muller said the organisation was committed to investment in market development for primary products. “We are proud to have contributed to a solution which will normalize longer-term demand with supply and benefit all members of the value chain – from miners, to refiners, fabricators and OEMs,” Muller added.

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