Distribution of Precious Metals (Ag, Au, Pd, Pt, and Rh) Between Copper Matte and Iron Silicate Slag

Katri Avarmaa, Hannu Johto, Pekka Taskinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


The distributions of precious metals (Ag, Au, Pd, Pt, and Rh) between copper matte and silica-saturated iron silicate slag were determined at 1523 K to 1623 K (1250 A degrees C to 1350 A degrees C), in controlled CO-CO2-SO2-Ar gas mixtures. The experiments were done in silica crucibles and a fixed partial pressure of sulfur dioxide for matte grades of 55, 65, and 75 wt pct Cu. High-temperature equilibration/quenching/electron probe X-ray microanalysis technique was used to obtain compositions of the equilibrated matte and slag. The technique was applied for the first time to the distributions of precious metals in simulated flash smelting conditions. The resolution of electron probe microanalysis became critical as the detection limits were insufficient to measure reliably the precious metals concentrations (except silver) in the slag. The distribution coefficient of silver, L (m/s)[Ag] = [wt pctAg in matte]/(wt pctAg in slag), was found to be between 200 and 300, which agrees well with the latest studies in the literature. For other precious metals, the minimum values of distribution coefficients were determined according to the detection limits in the slag. The values obtained were for gold and platinum > 250, for palladium > 1000, and for rhodium > 900. The distribution coefficients of palladium, although locating above distribution coefficient of the detection limit, formed a clear dependency with a good repeatability as a function of the matte grade. It increased along with matte grade and was approximately 1000 at 50 pct Cu and 2000 to 3000 at 70 pct Cu. The precious metals replace metal in the matte structure and they are present as sulfides in the copper matte.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-255
Number of pages12
JournalMetallurgical and Materials Transactions B: Process Metallurgy and Materials Processing Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • CU


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of Precious Metals (Ag, Au, Pd, Pt, and Rh) Between Copper Matte and Iron Silicate Slag'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this