Palladium is a precious metal used mainly in the fabrication of jewellery, appliances and electronics, dental alloys and in catalytic converter production for cars.
A cheaper alternative to gold and platinum for many forms of jewellery, the price of the commodity rests largely on global mining output and demand in the aforementioned industries, with more than half of the metal's use coming in the automotive field.
Ore deposits for the precious metal can be found across the globe; at the Stillwater Complex in Montana in the US, the Norlisk Complex in Russia, the norite belt of the Bushveld Igneous Complex covering the Transvaal Basin in South Africa and extensive deposits in the Subdury District of Canada. The metal itself is extracted from the rare minerals cooperite and polarite.
The majority of the world's mining output for palladium comes from Russia (44 per cent), followed by South Africa (40 per cent), with Canada (six per cent) and the US (five per cent) making up the remainder of production.
Discovered by William Hyde Wollaston in 1803, the precious metal is named after the asteroid Pallas. It forms part of the platinum group of metals, alongside platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium, with palladium being the least dense of the metals and having the lowest melting point.
Traded globally on a range of spot markets - including the London Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and the Xetra trading system - the commodity is backed by allocated palladium bullion and has the code XPD.
Palladium peaked in January 2001 with the price rising to almost $1,100 per troy ounce. In recent years the value of the commodity has fallen back somewhat, following the sale of Russian government stockpiles of the precious metal at approximately 1.6 to two million ounces per year.