A pale blue liquid commonly used to dye hair can help extract precious metals as effectively as conventional resource extraction methods, according to new research.
A Curtin University study has found when hydrogen peroxide is used as an oxidising agent, hydrochloric acid as a leaching agent, and ordinary salt is added, the mixture can extract all platinum group metals (PGMs) from ore.
The research, which was led by Cleophace Ngoie Mpinga and Alireza Rabieh between 2017 and 2019, shows the new method works just as effectively as conventional chloride salt roasting and acid leaching on a Panton Sill ore sample.
“The results show that increasing the percent solids of the leach slurry up to 25 per cent did not affect the extraction and most of the PGMs were extracted (97 per cent platinum, 90 per cent palladium and 97 per cent gold),” the report said.
“Furthermore, the precipitation process demonstrated a good separation of PGMs and base metals from other gangue metals like iron/aluminium.”
This suggests the hydrogen peroxide and hydrochloric acid extraction method could deliver significant cost savings and make it more affordable to establish new projects by removing the need to use corrosive salt during ore processing.
“The cost savings delivered by this new method to extract platinum will support the development of resources in Western Australia that could not be previously extracted,” Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said in a public statement.
“The State Government is committed to investing in scientific research to support the mining sector to further unlock mineral potential and create jobs in WA.”
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The study was supported by the state-funded Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia and sponsored by base metal producer Panoramic Resources.