20 June, 2008. Ruthenium opened US$300/toz at BASF today.  This obscure member of the PGM family has been subject to extreme price volatility over the last 2 years. From September, 2006 to mid -February, 2007. Ru ramped in price from US$168/toz to an all time high price of US$870/toz.  Stiff demand from the aviation and electronics sectors as well as the usual uncertainty in mining output was responsible for this price explosion.

One of the major sources of Ruthenium lies in South Africa.  Platinum Group Metal (PGM) mining occurs in the Bushveld Complex in the northern part of the country. According to Implats, this complex is a saucer shaped body formed by successive injections of magma into a large chamber. The chamber contents then underwent a cooling phase which resulted in fractional crystallization which partitioned mineral species according to solubility and melt temperature. 

Within the Bushveld Complex are concentrations of PGMs occuring in substructures called reefs. A particularly rich body of ore is the Merensky reef. Another is the UG2 reef. It makes for intersting reading and a worthwhile diversion for the curious chemist.

Advertisements