is part of the field of extractive metallurgy
involving the use of aqueous
chemistry for the recovery of metals from ores, concentrates, and recycled or residual materials. Hydrometallurgy is typically divided into three general areas:
- Solution concentration and purification
- Metal recovery
involves the use of aqueous solutions containing a lixiviant
which is brought into contact with a material containing a valuable metal. The lixiviant in solution may be acidic
in nature. The type and concentration of the lixiviant is normally controlled to allow some degree of selectivity for the metal or metals that are to be recovered. In the leaching process, oxidation potential, temperature, and pH
of the solution are important parameters, and are often manipulated to optimize dissolution of the desired metal component into the aqueous phase.
The three basic leaching techniques are in-situ leaching, heap leaching, and vat leaching.
is also called "solution mining." The process initially involves drilling of holes into the ore deposit. Explosives or hydraulic fracturing are used to create open pathways within the deposit for solution to penetrate into. Leaching solution is pumped into the deposit where it makes contact with the ore. The solution is then collected and processed.The Beverley uranium deposit
is an example of in-situ leaching.
In heap leaching processes,... Read More