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Mining platinum from the expressway

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Winston

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The dust swept from a small area of roadside pavement had approvimately 6.7g of platinum per ton which is above the content considered to be worth mining. 6.7g of platinum is worth about $210. He did not take into account the value of the palladium metal that was also precipitated out, another precious metal component of automotive catalytic converters, nor any of the valuable metals contained in the visible solid residue (mostly silver, with iridium and ruthenium).

[video=youtube;v5GPWJPLcHg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5GPWJPLcHg[/video]
 

Winston

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His concentrations were much higher than those found in a UK study:

The Streets Are Paved With Gold (And Platinum)
15 Jul 2013

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/07/15/the-streets-are-paved-with-gold-and-platinum

Found in that article, these results are from the UK:

"Another way of putting this is that in a tonne of this waste (and please note that this is not the total waste found on the roadsides: this is only the fine dust portion of that total waste) we’ll get 0.4 of a gramme of platinum, 0.4 of a gramme of palladium and 0.1 of a gramme of rhodium. To a close approximation (the Rh is worth 3 times the other two, so very roughly you understand) we’ll end up with 1 gramme of metals worth $2,000 per troy ounce in each tonne of dust. There’s 31 grammes in an ounce (and no, I am not bothering to correct for the difference between troy and avoirdupois ounces) giving us a metals value of this dust of $60 to $70 per tonne.

So don’t go out sweeping the road and thinking that you’re going to get rich

However, for the people who are already sweeping the road, collecting the dust, and having to landfill that dust, it might well be an attractive operation to try to recover those metals values. The trick here is not to think that one must produce pure platinum etc. That would absolutely not make sense in any manner at all. The capital requirements to do the complex chemistry of separating pgms are simply too high by orders of magnitude for the amount that could be found in this dust. What you would do is try to concentrate up the dust until it met the sort of standards that the extant refining system will take as an input. Which, fortunately we know: to the concentrations found in the original zirconia blocks, there already being, as above, a refining system for them. To one gramme per half kilo, or 2,000 ppm. To go from 1 ppm to 2,000 might seem a large task but given what most of the dust is likely to be (organic material mostly) I would imagine it to be not all that difficult.

So, in the end, we have something that we used to throw away and now we’re going to recycle it. What’s more, we’re only going to recycle it because we can make a profit doing so: this means that we must be adding value, making the world a richer place. This is what making a profit means."


Papers, not are many free ones:

https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Platinum+group+elements+roadside&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0,6
 

TopRamen

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It's nice to see that it is being collected up and not going to waste.
 

TopRamen

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Around here most folks cut their cat out of their exhaust and sell it at the metal salvage place for $75.
I always keep an eye out for them on the side of the road.
 
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