Ores & Extraction


Ores & Extraction

Very unreactive metals are found in their natural states. More reactive metals have reacted with other elements to form compounds in rocks.

The process of obtaining a metal from a compound is extraction.

Ways of extracting metals:

Heating an ore with Carbon:

  • Used if the metal being extracted is under Carbon in the reactivity series.
  • The carbon displaces the metal.
  • Iron Oxide + Carbon ---) Iron + Carbon Dioxide

Electrolysis of a molten compound:

  • Used if the metal being extracted is higher than Carbon in the reactivity series.
  • Decomposes the compound.
  • Aluminium ---) Aluminium + Oxygen
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Ores & Extraction - Advanced

Advanced ways of extracting metals:

Bioleaching - Using bacteria to extract metals from their ores. Produces solution with metal ions.

Bioleaching uses bacteria on low grade ore. The bacteria produce a solution containing copper ions, called a leachate. Copper is extracted from leachate by displacement using scrap iron, then purified by electrolysis.

This method can also be used to extract Nickel, Cobalt and Zinc.

Phytoextraction - Using plants to extract metals by absorbing the compounds.

Phytoextraction involves growing plants that absorb metal compounds. The plants are burnt to form ash, from which the metal is extracted.

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