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  • Palladium
  • Mines Producing Palladium

Palladium was discovered by William Wollaston in 1803. It is part of a group of elements known as the platinum group metals (PGM's) that include the following; osmium, iridium, ruthenium, rhodium, platinum and palladium. All these metals have much the same chemical properties but palladium is the least dense and has the lowest melting point.

The Uses of Palladium
The motor industry uses up most of the palladium produced in the world today with the manufacturing of catalytic converters that convert harmful gases emitted by vehicle engines such as nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons into less-harmful substances such as water vapour, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Other uses for palladium include the following:

- Blood sugar testing strips
- Dentistry
- Watch making
- Jewellery
- Medicine
- Purification of hydrogen
- Electronics
- Fuel cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce water, heat and electricity
- Aircraft engine spark plugs
- Surgical instruments
- Electrical contacts
- Professional transverse flutes
- Bullion value with ISO currency codes of 964 and XPD that places it alongside only three other metals with similar codes, these being; platinum, silver and gold.
- In soldering materials and plating of electronic components.
- Palladium chloride was once used to treat tuberculosis but it came with considerable side effects and was eventually replaced by more effective treatment

Palladium has been used in the jewellery industry since 1939 as white gold, as an alternative to using platinum. This is because of its natural white colouring that doesn't require rhodium plating. It can be beaten into a thin leaf in a similar fashion as gold but unlike platinum it is susceptible to discolouring in heat above 400 degrees Celsius when it also becomes brittle and will react with nitric acid and other strong acids.

Palladium ore Deposits are Rare
Deposits of palladium ore are very rare with most of the metal coming from Russia, South Africa, Canada and the United States. Much of the palladium used by industry today being sourced from the recycling of catalytic converters. It is also found as a free metal alloyed with other platinum group metals such as gold in placer deposits in Australia, the Ural mountains, Ethiopia and South America. It is therefore a metal that arouses considerable investment interest. It can also be produced in nuclear fission reactors and extracted from used nuclear fuel although this source is not used at the present time.

The Panton Project In Western Australia may Make Australia a Leading Producer of Palladium in the Future
In the Kimberly region of Western Australia, 60 kilometres north of Halls Creek, a large palladium deposit is being looked at for future development. It is known as the Panton Project but is currently on hold owing to viability concerns. Palladium is hard to discover in large volumes and is difficult to mine.

Palladium and Platinum Have Similar Uses
Palladium and platinum both have a jewellery demand although palladium share is only four percent whereas platinum enjoys 51 percent. However, both are in high demand from the vehicle industry for the production of catalytic converters where palladium demands total 63 percent of all palladium produced against that of platinum that demands 21 percent.

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