2023-2024 / GEOL1043-1

Extractive metallurgy


30h Th, 20h Pr, 1d FW

Number of credits

 Master in Chemical and Materials Science Engineering (Ir.), professional focus in Advanced Materials - Innovative Recycling (AMIR-EM)5 crédits 
 Master of Science (MSc) in Geological and Mining Engineering5 crédits 


Stoyan Gaydardzhiev, Andreas Pfennig

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The course has objective to enlarge the knowledge of the students following mining-geological engineering and chemical and materials engineering (AMIR) study tracks towards the contemporary and emerging metallurgical processes used for production of the main non-ferrous (Cu, Zn, Pb,..), critical (Co, Ni, Mn) and precious metals. The course covers both the theoretical aspects of modern extractive metallurgical processes as well as refers to selected case studies. It encompasses the core units listed below :

  • Metallurgical processes for production of the main non-ferrous metals
  • Leaching chemistry - Kinetics and Mechanisms.
  • Hydrometallurgy of main mineral ores
  • Treatment of productive solutions after leaching
  • Electrometallurgy (electro refining)
  • Reactive extraction and liquid membranes
  • Hydrometallurgical advances in processing of "critical" metals from EoL products
The course begins with an introduction to metallurgical processes enabling the students to get aware about the challenges in metals extraction and purification processes from both technological as well as an economical points of view. The basics of chemical thermodynamics related to mineral compounds stability in aqueous systems follows. The theoretical grounds of the modern hydrometallurgy are presented together with examples of operational flowsheets for leaching common mineral ores and concentrates. The way of treating pregnant leach solutions (PLS) after leaching are equally discussed, followed by the basics of electrorefining, reactive extraction and liquid membrane possesses as supplementary methods. The practical application of the latter techniques is likewise illustrated as part of the contemporary strategies in recovery of "critical" metals from EoL (End-of-Life) products.Case studies with reference to the economical parameters (metals recovery, purity of final products) which cover selected hydrometallurgical operations (heap-leaching of precious metal ores, processing of nickel laterite, Ni/Co and Cu/Co ores) are presented.

The laboratory classes include exercises relative to mineral equilibrium systems (Pourbaix diagrams using HSC Chemistry), theoretical calcualtions of mass transfer and preparation and hydrometallurgical processing of e-waste materials with associated mass balance calculations.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

By the end of this course, a student should be able to:

  • Understand the origin of metal value from process chain point of view
  • Determine the correct stoichiometry for a metal leaching reaction
  • Understand the thermodynamics of ideal mixtures and calculate phase compositions of mineral-solution systems at equilibrium
  • Understand the main stages involved in the hydrometallurgical processing of non-ferrous metal ores
  • Get aware about  hydrometallurgical advances in recovery of critical metals from EoL streams
This course contributes to the learning outcomes I.1, I.2, II.2, II.3, III.2, III.4, IV.2, IV.3, VI.1, VI.2, VII.1, VII.2, VII.3, VII.4, VII.5 of the MSc in geological and mining engineering.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

It is advisable that the students possess knowledge on raw materials value chain, chemical thermodynamics and are aware of the basic principles of process engineering.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Theoretical lectures and laboratory exercises. The lab exercises involve: mineral chemical reactions (hydrometallurgy) (HSC Chemistry), preparation of "e-waste" material, leaching and solution processing. Single-drop experiments for determining mass-transfer rate.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Face-to-face but could differ as function of how the epidemic situation evolves

first quadrimetre 2023-24,  Thursday  pm 

Recommended or required readings

Habashi, F., 1999. A Textbook of Hydrometallurgy (2nd edition), Metallurgie Extractive Quebec
Havlik, T. 2008. Hydrometallurgy: Principles and Applications, Woodhead Publishing in Materials
Jergensen I, Gerald V. (Eds.). 1999, Copper Leaching, Solvent Extraction, and Electrowinning Technology-Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME)
Garrels R.M. and Christ C., 1965, Solutions minerals and equilibria, New York: Harper & Row
Gupta, C. K., Krishnamurthy, Nagaiyar, 2016. Extractive metallurgy of rare earths-CRC Press

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Additional information:

Normal situation: The exam will be an oral one involving 2 or 3 questions on the subjects seen and discussed during the theoretical classes.

The exam will be held in English.


Work placement(s)

no work placement is scheduled

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course is delivered during the first quadrimester

Thursdays pm;

This course is presenting the unit oprations which are utilized within the final stage of the industrial metal production chain. Thus, although a link exists, the material covered in this course differs from the one already seen in the Mineral Processing and Soild Waste and By-product Processing courses. The theoretical principles of extractive metallurgy are extensively presented and computer and laboratory exercises are used to facilitate the comprehension of the subject.


tel: 9120
B52 -1/412
Andreas PFENNIG - Prof.
tel: 3521
B6c, office 1/66

Association of one or more MOOCs