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Iridium: The Precious Metal For The Hydrogen Economy

Apr. 04, 2021 8:51 PM ETAPD7 Comments
Burt Rothberg profile picture
Burt Rothberg


  • This updates my July 2020 pitch on the platinum group metal, Iridium.
  • The price has risen four times.
  • Another interesting commodity is Indium, an overlooked electronic metal.

Last July I wrote an article titled "The Chokepoint of the Hydrogen Economy." In it I described the various ways one could invest in hydrogen. I then described what I considered the best, going long the platinum group metal iridium (Ir). If you haven't read the article, you should do it now. In case you won't or you are not a Pro subscriber, here's a quick summary:

Iridium is currently used in a variety of technological applications. It is produced as a minor byproduct of platinum/palladium. There are no Ir mines, and there is no way to easily expand production. If the use of green hydrogen expands like some are forecasting, it will be necessary to produce the hydrogen by splitting water molecules. One of the best ways of doing this uses Ir as the anode catalyst. There simply is not enough Ir for this. Thrifting of Ir will make it more feasible, but higher Ir prices will also be necessary.

Here's a graph of Ir prices since I wrote it.

Iridium Prices from BASFSource: BASF website

Honestly, I did not expect this to work as quickly as it did. This was a long-term trade, so I thought. However, a few things forced the acceleration:

- Supplies were cut back by the S. African COVID shutdown. This was already underway in July of course, but the new variant made it worse.

- I understand that consumer inventories were somewhat under normal. In view of the dynamic price situation, it's reasonable that they wanted to rebuild.

- Ir is being used for cleaning up ships' waste to meet the new world standards.

- Most important to my mind, nontraditional speculators like I started buying Ir. I believe that there was some spillover from the rhodium speculators, who are obviously flush right now. Ir is a very small market, and shifts

This article was written by

Burt Rothberg profile picture
Burt Rothberg is a Seeking Alpha contributor.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long APD. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Where to start? Both these metals are much less liquid than typical stocks or bonds. You are buying from a dealer who could choose not buy back from you. These have to be stored in an appropriate safe place. Remember, you are investing in a physical object; it can be destroyed, stolen or whatever. I write these articles for education only. I would never recommend an investment to anyone whose financial situation I do not know personally. So this is just a record of my own investing analysis. Do your own research; following others (even those as smart as I) is a sure road to ruin.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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Comments (7)

Tuco's Child profile picture
Ir also features an electrically conductive oxide which is fairly rare.

Most oxides are insulating.
Erik Poole profile picture
Iridium is also used in spark plugs though I have no idea how significant that use is relative to other applications of Iridium.

I do not see ICE-powered automobiles becoming globally less popular any time soon so in some respects this is a material that can benefit from both new and old energy applications.

Fascinating play. Thanks for sharing Burt.
BeaBaggage profile picture
Interesting for sure.. Iridium is also used to harden platinum in platinum jewelry, a favorite of the Japanese consumer..I have several plat pieces marked 900pt100ir.
Jeff B profile picture
(1) In the absence of an established metals exchange backing purity, how does a buyer verify the ingot content?

(2) Is liquidity a concern?
Burt Rothberg profile picture
@Jeff B The most important thing is the sellers rep, just like any metals dealer. I did quite a bit of DD (no guarantees of course). I also had random ingots assayed by an independent lab for about $50.
doug5380 profile picture
Just commenting to make sure I get any updates and comments. As always thanks!
What a fascinating read thank you
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