Skip to content
Related Articles

Related Articles

Improve Article
Save Article
Like Article

Extraction of Metals from Ores

  • Last Updated : 05 Oct, 2021

The matter is characterized as any substance that has mass and consumes space by having a volume in old-style material science and general science. Day by day protests that can be contacted are eventually comprised of molecules, which are comprised of collaborating subatomic particles, and matter alludes to iotas and everything comprised of them, just as any particles that go about as though they have both rest mass and volume, in both ordinary and logical use. It doesn’t notwithstanding, incorporate massless particles like photons, just as other energy marvels or waves like light. There is a wide range of conditions of issue.  

Different states, like plasma, Bose-Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark-gluon plasma, are conceivable notwithstanding the exemplary ordinary periods of strong, fluid, and gas – for instance, water exists as ice, fluid water, and vaporous steam – however different states, like plasma, Bose-Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark-gluon plasma, are likewise conceivable. Besides that, it’s isolated into unadulterated substances and blends.

Extraction of Metals

Metals are extracted from their ores through a series of processes. The stages vary depending on the kind of ore, the metal’s reactivity, and the nature of impurities in the ore. Metallurgy refers to the processes involved in metal extraction and refinement. Most metal ores need to be transported to the Earth’s surface so that metal may be extracted. Mining is the term for this procedure. In general, the process of extracting metals consists of three basic phases. These are the following:

  • Enrichment or concentration of an ore
  • Extraction of metal from concentrated ore
  • Refining of the impure metal

Enrichment or Concentration of Ore

After being mined from the earth, and ore contains numerous undesirable impurities such as sand, rough minerals, and so on. Gangue is a term for undesirable impurities such as earthy materials, rocks, sandy materials, limestone, and so on.

To get a concentrated ore having a considerably greater proportion of the metal, the first step in metallurgy is to eliminate these undesirable impurities from the ore. The physical or chemical characteristics of the gangue and ores determine the method employed to extract it from the ore. The following are some of the processes used to concentrate the ore:

  1. Hand-picking: The ore is broken into little pieces, and the sand and mud that adheres to it are washed away by a stream of water.
  2. Hydraulic washing: This procedure is also known as levigation or gravity separation. It is based on the specific gravities of the ore and gangue particles being different.
  3. Electromagnetic separation: Magnetic ore is separated from impurities using this process. In this process, the powdered ore is placed on a leather belt that passes over two rollers, one of which is magnetic. When crushed ore travels over the magnetic roller, magnetic ore particles are attracted to it and sink below it, while impurities fall away from it. This method is used to extract chromite, rutile, and wolframite from siliceous gangue, chlorapatite, and cassiterite, respectively.
  4. Froth floatation process: This method is widely used for sulphide ores and is based on the ore and gangue particles’ differing wetting properties. A large tank is filled with finely powdered ore, water, pine oil (frother), metal sulphide, and ethyl xanthate or potassium ethyl xanthate (collector). The entire mixture is then stirred with air. Oil-soaked ore particles enter the froth and are removed, whilst water-soaked impurities sink to the bottom. Pine oil is used as a foaming agent, and cresol and anisole are used as froth stabilisers. Ethyl xanthate and potassium ethyl xanthate are utilised as collectors. Activator in CuSO4 and a wild depressant in KCN.
  5. Liquation: This technique is appropriate for ore with readily fusible mineral particles and a high melting gangue.
  6. Chemical separation (leaching): In this process, a suitable chemical reagent is used to dissolve the powdered ore while impurities remain insoluble in the reagent. With the assistance of NaOH, bauxite is separated from Fe2O3, SiO2, and TiO2, with Al2O3 soluble and the rest insoluble.

Al2O3 + 2NaOH  →  2NaAlO2 + H2O

NaAlO2 + 2H2O  →  Al(OH)3 + NaOH

2Al(OH)3  →  Al2O3 + 3H2O

Ag2S + 4NaCN  →  2Na[Ag(CN)2] + Na2S

Extraction of Metal from Concentrated Ore

Metals are extracted from concentrated ore using a variety of techniques. The metals are divided into three categories based on their reactivity:

Less reactive metals or metals with low reactivity 

  1. Moderately reactive metals or metals with a medium reactivity 
  2. Moderately reactive metals or metals with a high reactivity
  3. Metals with a high reactivity or highly reactive metals

Extraction of Less Reactive Metals

Mercury (Hg), gold (Au), and platinum (Pt) are the least reactive metals in nature and are found in a free state at the bottom of the activity series. As a result, these metals may be removed only by reducing their oxides with heat.

Extraction of Mercury: Cinnabar (HgS), a sulphide ore, is the most common mercury ore. The following steps can be used to extract the metal (Hg) from the ore.

Step 1: In the air, roast concentrated mercury (II) sulphide ore.

Roasting is the process of turning a sulphide ore into its equivalent metal oxides by rapidly heating it in the presence of air. As a result, concentrated mercury (II) sulphide is roasted in the air to produce mercury (II) oxide.

Step 2: Mercury (II) oxide ore is converted to mercury metal 

  • Sulphide ore roasting: To transform cinnabar ore (HgS) into metal oxide, it is heated in the presence of air (HgO).

2HgS + 3O2  →  2HgO + 2SO2

  • Reduction of metal oxide to metal: As the metal oxide (HgO) is heated further, it is reduced to metal.

2HgO  →  2Hg + O2

Thus, HgS can be converted into Hg by heating alone.

Extraction of Moderately Reactive Metals

The metals lying in the reactivity series are respectably receptive and typically happen as sulfides or carbonates in nature. Accordingly, extraction of these metals is additionally done in two stages:  

  1. The respectably receptive metals can be removed by the decrease of their oxides with carbon (C), aluminium (Al), sodium (Na), or calcium (Ca). Some respectably receptive metals likewise happen in nature as their carbonates or sulfides. In any case, we can say that metals can be more effortlessly removed from their oxide minerals than carbonates or sulfide metals. The oxide minerals can be straightforwardly changed over into metals by warming, while the carbonate or sulfide metals should initially be changed over into metal oxide.  
  2. The concentrated minerals can be changed over into metal oxide by utilizing calcination or broiling dependent on the idea of the metal. The method involved with warming carbonate metal firmly without air is called calcination.  

Metals like zinc (Zn), tin (Sn), lead (Pb), and iron (Fe) can be extricated by the course of calcination. The metal oxide framed is then changed over into metal by warming it within the sight of decreasing specialists like carbon (C), aluminium (Al), sodium (Na), or calcium (Ca). The utilization of diminishing specialists relies upon the compound reactivity of the metal to be extricated.

Extraction of Zinc:

Conversion of ore into metal oxide: Zinc is found in nature as both sulphide and a carbonate. As a result, they must be transformed into zinc oxide before being reduced. 

  • Roasting of zinc sulphide:

2ZnS+3O2  →  2ZnO + 2SO2

  • Calcination of zinc carbonate:

ZnCO3  →  ZnO + CO2

Reduction of metal oxide to metal: Carbon is used as a reducing agent to convert zinc oxide to zinc metal.

ZnO + C  →  Zn + CO

The type of reducing agent employed is determined by the metal oxide to be reduced.

Extraction of Highly Reactive Metals

The metals lying high in the reactivity series are extremely responsive and can’t be acquired by diminishing their oxides and different mixtures utilizing normal decreasing specialists like carbon. The metal oxides of these metals are hard to decrease as these metals have a high proclivity for oxygen. Such profoundly responsive metals are separated by the electrolytic decrease of their liquid chlorides or oxides.  

Electrolytic decrease: When metals are separated from their liquid chlorides or oxides by passing an electric flow through them. This course of electrolytic decrease is likewise called electrolysis. In an electrolytic decrease technique, metal particles on electrolysis move towards the cathode, acquiring an electron to become metal atoms.

Electrolysis of Molten Sodium Chloride

Sodium metal is removed from the liquid sodium chloride by the course of electrolytic decrease. At the point when liquid sodium chloride is electrolyzed by passing electric flow, it deteriorates into sodium (Na+) particles and chloride (Cl) particles. The sodium Na+ particles move towards the cathode (negative terminal) while chloride Cl particles move towards the anode (positive cathode). These sodium Na+ particles acquire electrons at the cathode and get diminished to sodium molecules, and chloride Clparticles lose electrons at the anode and get oxidized to chlorine iotas. The response included is as per the following:

  • At cathode: 2Na+ + 2e→ 2Na
  • At anode: 2Cl–  →  Cl2 + 2e
  • Overall reaction: 2Na → 2Na + Cl2

At the cathode, sodium metal is obtained, while at the anode, chlorine gas is released.

Refining of Impure Metals

The metal acquired by any strategy for decrease measure normally contains a few pollutants, so they are tainted. The metal got alongside the pollutants is called rough metal. Presently, we need to eliminate these contaminations to get 99.9% unadulterated metal. The most common way of cleaning debased metals (unrefined metals) is called refining of the metal.  

Diverse refining strategies are utilized for various metals. The strategy to be utilized for refining a tainted metal relies upon the idea of the metal and the idea of pollutants present in it. The most significant and broadly utilized strategy for purging debased metals is electrolytic refining. Since the refining of the metal is finished by electrolysis, this technique is called electrolytic refining. Numerous ways are utilized to clean metals, out of which electrolytic refining is most generally utilized.

Sample Questions

Question 1: What are the methods of extraction of metals?

Answer:

Metals may be extracted from ore in three different ways. Electrolysis, reducing an ore with a more reactive metal, and reducing the ore with carbon are the methods used.

Question 2: What type of chemical reaction is used to extract metals from ores?

Answer:

The decomposition reaction, which is powered by electricity, removes metals from naturally occurring compounds such as oxides and chlorides.

Question 3: How is a metal extracted and processed?

Answer:

Although other non-ferrous metals have lower melting points than aluminium and may thus be treated at lower temperatures, the same process stages are often used: crushing, grinding, flotation or other methods of concentration, smelting, refining, and electrolytic purification.

Question 4: What is the major source of metals?

Answer:

The primary natural sources of heavy metals in the environment are rocks and soils. When magma cools, the main rocks, also known as magmatic or igneous rocks, crystallise.

Question 5: What are the steps involved in the extraction of metals from ores?

Answer:

The process of extracting a metal from its ore is divided into three steps. They are ore enrichment or concentration, metal extraction from concentrated ore, and impure metal refining.

Question 6: What is the froth floatation process?

Answer:

This method is widely used for sulphide ores and is based on the ore and gangue particles’ differing wetting properties. A large tank is filled with finely powdered ore, water, pine oil (frother), metal sulphide, and ethyl xanthate or potassium ethyl xanthate (collector). The entire mixture is then stirred with air. Oil-soaked ore particles enter the froth and are removed, whilst water-soaked impurities sink to the bottom. Pine oil is used as a foaming agent, and cresol and anisole are used as froth stabilisers. Ethyl xanthate and potassium ethyl xanthate are utilised as collectors. Activator in CuSO4 and a wild depressant in KCN.


My Personal Notes arrow_drop_up
Recommended Articles
Page :

Start Your Coding Journey Now!