Critical Metals Ga, Ge and In: Experimental Evidence for Smelter Recovery Improvements

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Researchers

Research units

  • Geol Survey Finland GTK

Abstract

High-tech metals, including Ga, Ge and In, are critical for the performance of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). None of these three metals exist in mineable levels in natural minerals, and thus their availability and production are dependent on the primary and secondary base metals (including Zn, Al and Cu) production. To secure the supply of high-tech metals in the future, their behavior, including distribution coefficients (L-Cu/s = [wt% M](in copper)/(wt% M)(in slag)), in primary and secondary processes need to be characterized. This study reports three series of copper-slag distribution experiments for Ga, Ge and In in simulated secondary copper smelting and refining process conditions (T = 1300 degrees C, pO(2) = 10(-9)-10(-5) atm) using a well-developed drop-quench technique followed by EPMA and LA-ICP-MS analyses. This study shows how an analytical technique more traditionally applied to the characterization of ores or minerals can also be applied to metallurgical process investigation. The LA-ICP-MS analysis was used for the first time for measuring the concentrations of these minor elements in metallurgical glasses, i.e., slags, and the results were compared to the geological literature. The distribution coefficient of indium increased as a function of decreasing oxygen partial pressure from 0.03 to 10, whereas the distribution coefficient of gallium was 0.1 at 10(-9) atm and decreased as the pO(2) increased. The concentrations of gallium in slags were between 0.4 and 0.6 wt% and germanium around 1 ppm. Germanium was vaporized almost entirely from the samples.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Article number367
Number of pages13
JournalMinerals
Volume9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • trace elements, black copper, recycling, LA-ICP-MS, ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT, SILICATE MELTS, PHASE-EQUILIBRIA, PRECIOUS METALS, CORE FORMATION, ICP-MS, ELEMENTS, WASTE, GALLIUM, GERMANIUM

ID: 35896951