Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Recent trends in extractive metallurgy



Metallurgists and solution geochemists are joining forces to develop processes for extraction of metals from low-grade ores. The processes, which come under the name hydrometallurgy, include several new applications of solvent extraction techniques. Aqueous solutions are employed, leaching metals from ores, mine waste dumps, and even from deposits still in the ground. It was notable, for example, that Chemical and Engineering News (Feb. 8, 1982) recently featured the subject of hydrometallurgy in a special report. They noted that ‘recovering metals by use of aqueous solutions at relatively low temperatures increasingly is competing with dry, high-temperature pyrometallurgical methods.’ The relatively new techniques have caused a revolution, of sorts, in engineering programs of university metallurgy departments. The challenge of developing selective metal dissolution processes is drawing upon the best national talent in the fields of solution geochemistry and metallurgy.