Rally in Rarest Precious Metal Hots Up as Prices Hit Record

(Bloomberg) -- One of the least known precious metals hit a record on healthy demand from the car industry and for growing crystals used in mobile phones.

Iridium, one of the platinum-group metals, has climbed 12 percent this year, outperforming everything from nickel to gold. As the second-densest element and with one of the highest melting points among metals, it’s sought after for its use in spark plugs and glass manufacturing.

Rally in Rarest Precious Metal Hots Up as Prices Hit Record

“Spark-ignited engines are not going to disappear any time soon,” Jonathan Butler, a precious metal strategist at Mitsubishi Corp., said by email. “There are some very exciting applications for this metal in autonomous vehicles, where it can be used in on-board sensors.”

Iridium, which isn’t traded on an exchange and is mostly dealt between suppliers and industrial users, reached $1,090 an ounce on Friday, according to refiner Johnson Matthey Plc. That’s the highest in data going back to 2001. It’s the rarest of the seven main precious metals, according to the London Bullion Market Association.

Other minor PGMs have also soared this year. Ruthenium, traditionally used for coating hard disks, has climbed 29 percent to an eight-year high, while the more widely known rhodium gained 20 percent and is near the highest since 2011.

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