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Natural placer platinum is generally alloyed with some iron. So it will react to a magnet when you wave it under the pan. The only two elements that mercury will not amalgamate with is platinum and iron. So if you clean your material up with a little solvent like acetone and then a strong basic solution you can see that it has no affinity for mercury by putting a tiny drop in the pan and trying to coax the particles together.

Most platinum is tiny "color" and you are going to have a tough time getting an XRF gun to hit on it. If you have a lump of it you might have some luck otherwise it is a lot like identifying little particles of gold.

I generally use the appearance, weight (how it acts in the pan), slight magnetism, and no affinity for mercury after a good cleaning to identify platinum. If your material shows these characteristics then simply have a sample assayed to tell you for sure. 

Ask the assayer  what test would be best. Sometimes AA or GCMS is best and sometimes fire and ICP is best for certain elements. Tell them your interest is platinum so they can recommend the appropriate analysis rather than making assumptions yourself and requesting a specific test. 


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If you're in AZ, I would not even consider what you're finding platinum.  I would expect it to be some type of lead or other metal.  To put your mind at rest, I would first take it to an XRF analysis at a pawn shop.  I know Bob mentions an assay, but in the article below, it talks of how in certain instances an assay can produce a false positive.  The XRF followed by a fire assay would give you confidence you found something.  Perhaps you've found the deposit that miners have been missing for hundreds of years, which I hope you have, and that would be a very big deal.

Arizona Bureau of mines (or whatever it is or was called) has put out a warning that there is no platinum in AZ.  If anyone is pushing it, it is likely a scam.  Although this does not give the "scam" comment, this says how likely it is to be found.  There's supposed to be more platinum group metals than gold out there, but it is so uniformly distributed through the earth and has not been concentrated, it is a rare metal indeed.


I have seen articles in papers of people finding platinum nuggets in central AZ, but I'm not positive they found that platinum.  Platinum has been recovered as a byproduct of copper production, but very, very little of it.

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I think everyone who mines in Arizona should have a copy of ARIZONA MINING SCAMS AND UNASSAYABLE ORE PROJECTS OF THE LATE 20TH CENTURY from the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources.

If nothing else it has some very interesting recent history about Little San Domingo, Rich Hill and Skull Valley. Platinum is also mentioned.

Use a reputable fire assay like Copper State and I think your "Platinum" will be shown as an entirely different metal.

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