Extraction of Metals: Ores and Minerals, Concentrating the Ore (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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  • Isolation of elements includes various processes of extraction of metals from ores. Very few metals such as the noble metals, i.e.. , Gold, Silver, and Platinum etc. are present in their original metallic forms in nature. Metallurgy is the field of science which deals with the extraction of metals from ores which are naturally found in the environment.
  • Most of the elements especially metals are present combined with other elements and these are called minerals. An element may combine with a variety of other elements to make myriad minerals but out of them, only a few are viable sources of that metal. Such sources are called Ores.

Extraction of Metals

  • The process of extracting metal ores buried deep underground is called Mining. The metal ores are found in the earth՚s crust in varying abundance. The extraction of metals from ores is what allows us to use the minerals in the ground! The ores are very different from the finished metals that we see in buildings and bridges.
  • Ores consist of the desired metal compound and the impurities and earthly substances called Gangue. The extraction of metals and its isolation occurs over a few major steps:
    • Concentration of Ore
    • Isolation of metal from concentrated Ore
    • Purification of the metal


  • Bauxite:
  • Kaolinite (a form of clay)


  • Hematite:
  • Magnetite:
  • Siderite:
  • Iron pyrites:


  • Copper pyrites:
  • Malachite:
  • Cuprite:
  • Copper glance:


  • Zinc blend/Sphalerite:
  • Calamine:
  • Zincite:

Concentrating the Ore

  • This simply means getting rid of as much of the unwanted rocky material as possible before the ore is converted into the metal.
  • In some cases, this is done chemically. For example, pure aluminum oxide is obtained from bauxite by a process involving a reaction with sodium hydroxide solution. This is described in detail on the aluminum page in this section.
  • Some copper ores can be converted into copper (II) sulphate solution by leaving the crushed ore in contact with dilute sulphuric acid for a long time. Copper can then be extracted from the copper (II) sulphate solution.
  • But, in many cases, it is possible to separate the metal compound from unwanted rocky material by physical means. A common example of this involves froth flotation.


How Metals Are Extracted from Ores?


There are 3 main methods of extracting metals from their ore. They are reduction of the ore with carbon, reduction of the molten ore by electrolysis, and reduction of the ore with a more reactive metal.

How the Metals Are Extracted?


Once the ores have been excavated, the metals themselves must then be extracted from the ore, a process that depends on the metals՚ reactivity. Less reactive metals like iron can be extracted with reduction, where oxygen is removed from the ore through a reaction with carbon or carbon dioxide.

Which is Used in Metal Extraction?


An ore is a mineral that contains enough metal to make it worth extracting the metal. Carbon can be used to extract metals from some metal oxides. A metal can either be reduced or oxidized in a reaction. Reduction occurs when a metal in a compound loses oxygen, to form the elemental metal.

What Are the Three Types of Metal?


There are three main types of metals ferrous metals, non - ferrous metals and alloys. Ferrous metals are metals that consist mostly of iron and small amounts of other elements.

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