Palladium is found as a free metal and alloyed with platinum and gold with platinum group metals in placer deposits of the Ural Mountains of Eurasia, Australia, Ethiopia, South and North America. However it is commercially produced from nickel-copper deposits found in South Africa and Ontario, Canada. The huge volume of nickel-copper ore processed makes this extraction profitable in spite of its low concentration in these ores.
Palladium, together with platinum and rhodium, are primary components in autocatalysts that reduce vehicle exhausts emissions of hydro-carbons, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate. Autocatalysts convert most of these emissions into less harmful carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water vapor. Autocatalyst is palladium's largest and fastest growing demand sector, accounting for 49% of total palladium demand in 2006.