Scientists at Russia’s Ural Federal University (UrFU) are working on solving the problem of extracting non-ferrous and noble metals which are found in hard-to-process ores. Currently, there are many deposits where it is technically difficult to extract valuable components. This may be due to the presence of nanoscale gold and platinum group metals, their dissemination into the minerals’ sulfide matrix, or the presence of such highly toxic compounds as arsenic or antimony in the ore.
According to the project manager, senior researcher at the UrFU Academic Department of Nonferrous Metallurgy Denis Rogozhnikov, the relevance of the study is determined by the need to find new ways to process such refractory materials, as due to the depletion of ores rich in minerals and the deterioration of processed raw materials, currently, the existing technologies are not efficient or cost-effective from both economic and environmental points of view.
“Even modern high-intensity methods, such as ultrafine ore grinding, bacterial leaching, high-temperature autoclave oxidation, do not always allow [us] to achieve acceptable rates for the extraction of non-ferrous and noble metals,” Denis Rogozhnikov says. “In this regard, it is of particular importance to search for ways to open such resistant ores and to further isolate gold, silver or platinum metals in order to reduce their losses at various stages of the technological process.”