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8th Finniston Lecture: ‘The Platinum-group Elements: What we use them for, where they come from, and how they got there’

On 6 July Professor Anthony J Naldrett FRSC will deliver a lecture entitled The Platinum-group Elements: What we use them for, where they come from, and how they got there as part of the Finniston Lecture series. The event is organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and will be held at their headquarters at 1 Carlton House Terrace, London. A synopsis of the lecture as well as information about Professor Naldrett can be found below.

This year’s lecture examines the Platinum-group Elements (PGE) which consist of palladium, platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. The elements are dense with high melting points. These properties, combined with the lustre of platinum, make this metal suitable for use in jewellery. Industry, particularly in car manufacture, has utilised the relative un-reactivity and strong catalytic properties of palladium, rhodium and platinum. Their catalytic behaviour is likely to find major new use in fuel cells.

The majority of the worldwide reserves of the PGE can be found in Southern Africa, predominantly within the geological structure known as the Bushveld Igneous Complex. The PGE are not sufficiently concentrated in the earth’s mantle and crust to justify economic mining. However, specific geological processes can produce higher concentrations within the crust. For the PGE geologist it is important to understand and identify these processes. This lecture explores the formation of the Bushveld Complex and explains how PGE becomes concentrated within it, generating a near universal model of PGE mining sites around the world.

Professor Anthony J Naldrett is Emeritus Professor, University of Toronto, where he worked in their geology department having gained an MSc and PhD from Queen’s University. Born in England, he emigrated to Canada and his work reflects this international outlook. He has undertaken research into global deposits of Ni, Cu and the Platinum-group Elements (PGE) and has also acted as president on a number of boards, including the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the International Mineralogical Association and the Geological Society of America. He has written and co-authored six books and over 240 scientific articles. As a consultant, he advised companies including Chevron, Western Mining, Diamond Fields Resources Inc and Kennecott Exploration. He currently holds visiting professorships at Royal Holloway and the University of the Witwatersrand. He devotes four months a year to conducting research in South Africa, sponsored by the mining company Anglo Platinum.

The lecture is free of charge and open to the public. As space at the event is limited, please contact Rachel Brooks, Tel: 01476 514594, Email:, to reserve a place.

For the full lecture abstract, click here (Word doc 28k).

Notes for editors
  1. The Finniston Lecture was founded in 1992 in memory of Sir Harold Montague (Monty) Finniston. The lectures are held every two years and typically cover innovation in engineering, though the subject matter can be drawn from any area of scientific research.
  2. Sir Monty Finniston was a British industrialist and chairman of British steel. He helped produce the Finniston Report, a government initiative to evaluate the British engineering industry.

Date Posted: 13 June 2006

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