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The Refining Process
Research and Development

The Refining Process

The platinum group metals (PGMs) are relatively unreactive and each behaves very similarly. Our skill lies in getting these metals not only to react to a series of chemical treatments but to react differently.

The Refinery contains a number of separate chemical circuits, each one extracting a specific metal. The metals are extracted in a set sequence and customers' materials are fed into the process at the most appropriate point, depending on their purity and their content.

The extraction process is highly complex; timing , flow rates, temperatures and pressures are all critical. Every circuit is computer-controlled to ensure optimum efficiency.

Refining Process

Many of the circuits use a solvent extraction process pioneered by Vale's own chemists. This has resulted in even greater speed and efficiency in obtaining very high product purity.

The metals are finally recovered in the form of pure salts and blacks.  These are loaded into large furnaces where they are subjected to intense heat which reduces them to a grey, porous metal sponges.