3.1 Extracting Metals
Metals are usually found in the Earth’s crust. They are often combined chemically with other elements such as oxygen. An ore contains enough metal to make it worthwhile extracting.
Unreactive metals, which are low in the reactivity series, are found in the Earth as a metal or in their native state. These can be extracted using physical labour .Carbon (non-metal) will displace less reactive metals from their oxides. Carbon is more reactive than Copper, Lead, Iron and Zinc so it can be used to extract them from their oxides. The metal oxide is heated with carbon. The carbon removes the oxygen from the metal oxide to form carbon dioxide.
(Metal oxide + carbon → metal +carbon dioxide.)
The removal of oxygen from a compound is called chemical reduction.
Metals more reactive than carbon are extracted via electrolysis.