Hydrometallurgy

Suresh K. Bhargava, Mark I. Pownceby, Rahul Ram

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialOtherpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Hydrometallurgy, which involves the use of aqueous solutions for the recovery of metals from ores, concentrates, and recycled or residual material, plays an integral role in the multi-billion dollar minerals processing industry. It involves either the selective separation of various metals in solution on the basis of thermodynamic preferences, or the recovery of metals from solution through electro-chemical reductive processes or through crystallisation of salts. There are numerous hydrometallurgical process technologies used for recovering metals, such as: agglomeration; leaching; solvent extraction/ion exchange; metal recovery; and remediation of tailings/waste. Hydrometallurgical processes are integral across various stages in a typical mining recovery and mineral processing circuits be it in situ leaching (where solution is pumped through rock matrices); heap leaching (of the ROM or crushed ore); tank/autoclave leaching (of the concentrate/matte obtained from floatation); electro-refining (of the blister product from smelting routes); and the treatment of waste tailings/slags from the aforementioned processes. Modern hydrometallurgical routes to extract metals from their ores are faced with a number of issues related to both the chemistry, geology and engineering aspects of the processes involved. These issues include declining ore grade, variations in mineralogy across the deposits and geo-metallurgical locations of the ore site; which would influence the hydrometallurgical route chosen. The development of technologies to improve energy efficiency, water/resources consumption and waste remediation (particularly acid-rock drainage) across the circuit is also an important factor to be considered. Therefore, there is an ongoing development of novel solutions to these existing problems at both fundamental scales and pilot plant scales in order to implement environmentally sustainable practices in the recovery of valuable metals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
Number of pages3
JournalMetals
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this