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Production of Palladium

How do we get palladium?
In order to supply the world’s needs for palladium, this scarce metal is obtained from a combination of extraction and refining from ore supplies found on earth and via extraction from recycled material like catalytic converters that have recoverable quantities of palladium. The actual refining process will vary with the nature of the ore or the recycled material.

The steps that occur between the mined ore containing palladium and the final product are many. The first step after removal from the ground is transport to a concentrating facility where the ore is crushed and sent through flotation steps to obtain a more concentrated material. Next will come a smelting phase in which high heat is applied and the material further concentrated through periodic tapping of the molten material. The result is a furnace matte which undergoes further refining.

PGM metal concentrates are obtained either from the metallic phase of the sulfide matte or as anode slimes in the electrolytic refinement of the baser metals. From these, all six platinum metals as well as Ag and Au are obtained by a composite process. Traditional methods were based on selective precipitation and developed to suit the composition of the concentrate. Although these methods are still in use the efficiency of the separations is not high and costly recycling is required. Solvent extraction and ion exchange techniques offer superior efficiency and are increasingly replacing the classical processes.

Where does palladium come from?
This scarce material is found with other platinum group metals, but the greatest bulk of the mined supply comes from a very small number of sources. The vast majority of palladium comes from three areas. In 2011, distribution of palladium supply was as follows:

Russia - 41%
South Africa - 40%
North America - 12%
Together, these three sources provided 93% of the world's mined palladium supply in 2011.

How palladium is mined.

How palladium ore is concentrated.

How palladium bearing ore is smelted.

How palladium is refined.

Worldwide sources of palladium.


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