CHAPTER 7: Anthropospheric Losses of Platinum Group Elements
Published:18 Jul 2013
The platinum group elements are among the rarest elements in the Earth’s crust yet each plays an important role in modern society. Despite their technological importance, little has been published on how much is lost during their extraction, processing, use and recycling. This chapter provides estimates of global losses of Pt, Pd, Rh, Ru and Ir at each life cycle stage for the year 2010. The results indicate that losses are greatest at the first and last life cycle stages, namely at comminution and concentration and at the end‐of‐life. On a relative basis, losses as a percentage of primary demand across the metals range from approximately 25–40% on the supply‐side and from 30–45% on the manufacturing, use and disposal‐side. There are, however, notable differences across both life cycle stages and metals. End‐of‐life losses of Pd are notably higher than those of Pt, owing to its greater use in electronics for which little end‐of‐life recycling occurs. In contrast, the greater use of Pt is in closed‐loop industrial applications, jewellery and investment in which minimal losses occur. More effort is needed to reduce these losses, especially as greater quantities of these precious metals exit fromuse over the next decade.