Metal - Extraction

Extraction

Metals are often extracted from the Earth by means of mining, resulting in ores that are relatively rich sources of the requisite elements. Ore is located by prospecting techniques, followed by the exploration and examination of deposits. Mineral sources are generally divided into surface mines, which are mined by excavation using heavy equipment, and subsurface mines.

Once the ore is mined, the metals must be extracted, usually by chemical or electrolytic reduction. Pyrometallurgy uses high temperatures to convert ore into raw metals, while hydrometallurgy employs aqueous chemistry for the same purpose. The methods used depend on the metal and their contaminants.

When a metal ore is an ionic compound of that metal and a non-metal, the ore must usually be smelted — heated with a reducing agent — to extract the pure metal. Many common metals, such as iron, are smelted using carbon as a reducing agent. Some metals, such as aluminium and sodium, have no commercially practical reducing agent, and are extracted using electrolysis instead.

Sulfide ores are not reduced directly to the metal but are roasted in air to convert them to oxides.

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Other articles related to "extraction":

History Of Coal Mining - Early History
... Early coal extraction was small-scale, the coal lying either on the surface, or very close to it ... Typical methods for extraction included drift mining and bell pits ... This took the form of a bell pit, the extraction working outward from a central shaft, or a technique called room and pillar in which 'rooms' of coal were extracted with pillars ...

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