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Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80 – 88

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Challenging the traditional hydrometallurgy


curriculum—an industry perspective
Michael B. Mooimana, Kathryn C. Sole b,*, David J. Kinneberg c
a
MDM Partners Inc., 200 Conant Street, Pawtucket, RI 02860, USA
b
Anglo Research, a division of Anglo Operations Limited, P.O. Box 106, Crown Mines 2025, South Africa
c
Metalor USA Refining Corporation, P.O. Box 255, North Attleborough, MA 02761, USA
Received 19 November 2002; received in revised form 6 October 2004; accepted 6 November 2004
Available online 12 September 2005

Abstract

During the past 20 years, the hydrometallurgist’s role in industry has changed considerably. Flowsheet development and
technical troubleshooting are now smaller components of the job and, more often than not, issues of operations management,
environmental regulations, worker safety, risk assessment, and finances are more important. From an industry perspective, the
traditional hydrometallurgy curriculum is seen to have shortcomings in preparing hydrometallurgists for an industrial career.
The narrowly defined curriculum does not take into account the application of hydrometallurgical concepts to related fields such
as surface finishing, recycling, and the production of advanced materials by aqueous processing techniques. A critical review of
perceptions of weaknesses in the current system is presented, along with proposed improvements and modifications which, if
implemented, should prepare graduates more appropriately for the demands of the modern workplace.
D 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Extractive metallurgy; Hydrometallurgy; Curriculum; Career; University

1. Introduction through occurred in the 1880s, with the discovery


that gold and silver can be leached in cyanide solu-
The emergence of hydrometallurgy as an indepen- tion. The commercialisation of this process revolutio-
dent discipline can be traced back to the days of the nized the gold industry, and remains the backbone of
alchemists (Habashi, 1993). De Re Metallica dis- gold extractive metallurgy more than a century later
cusses knowledge of replacement reactions, such as (Fleming, 1992). The Bayer process for refining alu-
the cementation of copper by iron, and the use of aqua mina and the electrorefining processes for gold
regia as early as 600 to 900 AD. A major break- (Fisher, 1987) and copper (Biswas and Davenport,
1994) are all aqueous-based processes developed in
* Corresponding author. Fax: +27 11 377 4838. the 1880s that are still relevant today.
E-mail address: ksole@angloresearch.com Leaching and electrometallurgy formed the early
(K.C. Sole). foundations of hydrometallurgy. The modern disci-
0304-386X/$ - see front matter D 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.hydromet.2004.11.013
M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88 81

pline emerged with the development of solvent extrac- that we are a global community. Less dramatic (but
tion (SX) and ion exchange (IX) as core separation perhaps more profound) effects are seen in the rising
processes crucial to the success of the Manhattan mercury levels of Amazonia and the increasing blood
project in the 1940s. Although developed for the lead measurements of Chinese and Mexican children.
separation of actinides and rare-earth elements, these In addition to the large multinationals that control
unit operations were later applied to the recovery of much of the formal global mining industry, an increas-
base and precious metals. More recently, biological ing impact of small and micro-mining enterprises is
extraction processes and the use of high temperatures seen. This is particularly evident in countries with high
and pressures have been added to the arsenal of rates of unemployment in the formal sector that rely
hydrometallurgical unit operations, as demonstrated heavily on the entrepreneurial skills of their informal
by relatively recent processes for the recovery of sector. Sadly, it is precisely these small operations that
copper (McElroy and Young, 1999) and nickel create environmental havoc by inappropriately apply-
(Anthony and Flett, 1997) from materials that could ing hydrometallurgical processes for quick profit.
only be previously treated pyrometallurgically.
It is significant to note that technological develop- 2.2. Metallurgical R&D and education
ments over the past century have seldom been knowl-
edge-driven. Instead, advances have been driven by Clearly, the United States is no longer the centre of
such factors as the demand for a higher purity metal or gravity for hydrometallurgical R&D. Much of the
compound, the need for a new product with specific pioneering research in hydrometallurgy was done in
characteristics, the economics of a processing route, the prized industrial research laboratories of compa-
or, increasingly, more stringent environmental or nies like Exxon, Kennecott, and Anaconda. Most of
health and safety requirements and legislation. the large private laboratories have now closed, with
work subsequently taken up by government-sponsored
institutions such as the US Bureau of Mines (now
2. Changes in traditional hydrometallurgy during disbanded), Mintek (South Africa), and CSIRO (Aus-
the last 20 years tralia). Today, these facilities are also feeling the pres-
sure of reduced or terminated government sponsorship
2.1. Global shift in mining activities and are turning their efforts to dindustrialT projects. The
primary processing of ores and concentrates, on which
Paradoxically, as hydrometallurgy has matured as a traditional hydrometallurgy research focussed, is being
discipline, many ore deposits in the industrialized replaced by interest in recycling and reprocessing of
world have become depleted. Mining and the recovery secondary materials. Emphasis on environmental con-
of metals have come under severe scrutiny by both cerns and sustainable development is growing, while
regulators and the public. In some cases, this effect the escalating costs of experimental research have led
has been compounded by political and environmental to greater reliance on simulation and modelling.
pressures, illustrated, for example, by the anti-cyanide In the educational area, university departments are
lobby in impeding development of gold deposits in struggling to produce relevant work, undergraduate
the United States. The bulk of the development and enrollment has steadily dropped, and many graduates
practice of extractive metallurgy, and with it hydro- are required to find employment in allied fields. The
metallurgy, has moved from the United States to less- diminishing importance of metallurgy is reflected by
developed or mineral-rich regions like Australia, Rus- most of these departments being absorbed into Mate-
sia, China, South America, and southern Africa. In rials or Chemical Engineering departments.
fact, many US mineral and metal companies have now
found themselves part of larger non-US based multi- 2.3. The career path of a hydrometallurgist
national corporations. Relocation does not mean,
however, that environment responsibilities can be The traditional role of a hydrometallurgist was in
neglected. The worldwide environmental impact of the areas of operations (technical and management),
the Chernobyl engineering disaster demonstrated where the pinnacle of a career generally culminated in
82 M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88

an appointment as a senior executive or consulting years ago for pedagogic reasons, is unnecessarily
metallurgist for a large multinational mining company. restrictive and needs revision. At a minimum, we
Today many engineers trained in the field of extractive believe most of electrometallurgy falls under the
metallurgy, and more specifically hydrometallurgy, umbrella of hydrometallurgy. (We appreciate that
find themselves in very different roles during their this leaves molten salt processes hanging, but these
careers. Instead of developing flowsheets to exploit could easily fall under the pyrometallurgy umbrella.)
mineral resources, they apply their skills managing Hydrometallurgists are well versed in the basics of
wastewater treatment operations or environmental electrometallurgy given that the fundamental leach-
remediation projects, plating electronic components ing reactions are electrochemical in nature. A far
with multilayers of base and precious metals, recover- more encompassing scenario has been proposed by
ing metals from scrap, manufacturing semiconductors the Australian A J Parker Cooperative Research
or ceramics, or applying the hydrometallurgical con- Centre for Hydrometallurgy (see Table 1). This is a
cepts of leaching, separation, precipitation, and elec- well-considered approach with particular merit in
trodeposition in other fields, such as materials science countries such as Australia, South Africa, and
and engineering, production of bulk chemicals or high- Chile, where extractive metallurgy remains a corner-
purity materials, or corrosion prevention. stone of the economy. However, hydrometallurgy
In addition to operations management, a technical (and for that matter, extractive metallurgy) is one
knowledge of complex environmental issues, risk of the great cross-disciplinary fields, drawing in
assessment, materials selection, and process model- aspects of chemistry, chemical engineering, corrosion
ling and control is vital. Further challenges include science, organic chemistry, separation science, miner-
the management of multicultural and multidisciplin- alogy, etc. Simply by virtue of this multidisciplinary
ary teams, and the frequent requirements to work in nature, we should broaden our views even further,
developing countries, or under difficult climatic and rather than remain confined to the single context of
geographic conditions. It is clear that certain aspects metal recovery.
of the traditional undergraduate hydrometallurgy cur- Consider for a moment the application of aqu-
riculum are no longer relevant, and that some con- eous processing technologies in the field of materi-
siderably different skills must be taught if this field als science (Mooiman and Sole, 1994). It is clear
is to survive into the new millennium. that there are a diverse and growing number of
applications of aqueous-based processing techniques
beyond the field of classical hydrometallurgy. Many
3. Issues in the education of hydrometallurgists of the aqueous processing techniques are variants of
standard hydrometallurgical operations. For exam-
3.1. Hydrometallurgical education needs to change to ple, etching technologies for the production of semi-
reflect changes in the field conductors and electroplating technologies used in
the production of multilayer printed circuit boards
In his text on hydrometallurgy, Habashi (1993) have their respective parallels in the hydrometallur-
has done a good job of drawing together various gical techniques of leaching and electrowinning.
aspects of this rather diverse field, but he relies on Furthermore, a wealth of knowledge has accumu-
the classical division of extractive metallurgy into lated over the last decade concerning fundamental
pyrometallurgy, hydrometallurgy, and electrometal- understanding of reactions at a molecular and
lurgy. Hydrometallurgy itself is considered to be atomic level. Emerging fields such as nanotechnol-
the science of metal extraction by leaching, separa- ogy and even aspects of biotechnology could benefit
tion by solvent extraction (SX) or ion exchange (IX), from insights that aqueous chemistry could bring.
followed by precipitation. Electrolytic recovery of Conversely, emerging new paradigms in chemis-
metals from solution or electrorefining techniques, try, such as ionic liquids or molecular recognition
even if carried out in aqueous solutions, is viewed technology (MRT), have potential application in tra-
as the separate discipline of electrometallurgy. We ditional hydrometallurgical processes. For example,
believe the classical division, although useful 20 crown ether-based compounds, the development of
M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88 83

Table 1 Table 1 (continued)


A classification of hydrometallurgy, as proposed by the A J Parker
Metal recovery
Cooperative Research Centre for Hydrometallurgy, Australia
Precipitation/crystallisation of final products
Hydrometallurgy–minerals processing interface !Crystallisation by cooling
Simultaneous milling and leaching Environmental issues
Flotation Recycling
!Flotation of organic impurities !Process water
!Flotation of leach residues !Reagents (including recovery and destruction)
!Ionic flotation !Gases (including lime boil for ammonia)
Leaching processes Emission, effluent and waste
Pretreatment (including roasting) !Composition and origin within process
Oxidative leaching (including ferric leaching) !Gaseous emissions
Acid leaching !Suspended solids
Alkaline leaching !Dissolved solids
Metathetic leaching Acid mine drainage and abandoned mine sites
Irrigation leach processes (e.g., heap and dump leaching) Whole-flowsheet issues
Bacterial leaching processes Process mineralogy
Solid–liquid separation processes !Characterisation of feed, products and emissions
Filtration (including micro- and nanofiltration) !Characterisation of particles
Thickening and clarification (including coagulation, flocculation) Process modelling and control
Counter-current decantation !Fundamental thermodynamics and kinetics
Other equipment (centrifuges, hydrocyclones, etc.,) !Simulating unit operations (including reactor engineering)
Slurry transport !Simulating flowsheets
Separation and purification !Control of unit operations
Precipitation of impurities Engineering issues
!pH-controlled precipitation !Heat transfer, heat exchange, heat recovery
!Hydrothermal precipitation !Oxygen mass transfer
!Crystallisation (including scale formation) !Corrosion issues and materials selection
!Cementation and related reactions !Continuous pilot-plant trials and scale-up issues
!Electrolytic processes for impurity control
Solvent extraction
!SX process development (including liquid membranes) which was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in
!SX equipment 1987, are less than a decade later industrially
!Reagent development (including diluent effects, regeneration
employed in the MRT processing of precious metals
of extractant)
Adsorption and ion exchange in South Africa, Japan and Europe, and for the
!Activated carbon processes cleanup of various heavy metal waste streams (Bate-
!IX process development (including resin-in-pulp) man, 2002; Ichiishi et al., 2000; Amos et al., 2000).
!IX equipment development Recognizing that so many of the basic hydrome-
!Reagent development (including molecular recognition)
tallurgical principles are widely applicable, it is our
Membrane processes
!Reverse osmosis position that the field needs to be broadened to
!Ultrafiltration encompass allied fields that often fall bbetween the
!Electrodialysis cracksQ of other disciplines. Hydrometallurgy would
Chemical reactions become the centre of a larger cross-disciplinary field
!Oxyhydrolysis
dealing with all aspects of the chemistry and chemical
Metal recovery
Electrowinning/Electrorefining processes engineering of industrial aqueous-based processes. A
!Electrolytic process development start in this direction would be to rename the field
!Electrorefining processes (including anode treatment, byproduct Hydrotechnology or Chemical Engineering of Aqu-
recovery) eous Systems. The unifying core of the subject
!EW process optimisation (including non-aqueous electrolytes)
would still be the extraction and recovery of metals
!EW equipment development
Chemical reduction processes using aqueous solutions, but also included would be
!Pressure reduction the allied fields in which the principles of classical
!Other chemical reduction processes hydrometallurgy (leaching, separations, precipitation,
and electrolysis) apply.
84 M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88

3.2. The necessity and opportunity for change Materials Engineering or Computer Science. Is our
academic dilemma a result of the maturity of our field,
Implementing a broader definition of hydrometal- that not much remains to be discovered, and that all
lurgy enables us to better prepare our graduates for we are doing now is filling in the gaps? We sense in
careers which are likely to be found in a diversity of some academics a lost desire to be relevant or imagi-
fields of an increasingly cross-disciplinary nature. native. Many of these shortcomings are due to insuf-
This approach recognizes that the teachings and prin- ficient cross-fertilization between industry and
ciples from other fields are applicable; areas such as academia. Both are to blame.
biology, pharmacy, and petrochemistry offer enor- As harsh as we are in our views of the relevance of
mous potential for breakthroughs in traditional hydro- academic research, we also believe that industry has
metallurgical applications. It is important that the not bstepped up to the plateQ to improve matters.
knowledge base already developed is not lost, as Insufficient support by industry exists in terms of
aqueous processing is often a simpler, better, and project sponsorship to encourage a more practical/
more environmentally friendly alternative to estab- industrial focus to university research projects.
lished technologies. When sponsorship exists, industry tends to censor or
Unless the scope of hydrometallurgy changes, the limit publication, undercutting the academic require-
discipline will become increasingly less relevant in the ment to spread knowledge. There is also generally
developed economies; hydrometallurgy could become poor support of cooperative education programs.
merely a small specialized sub-discipline of Chemical Industry is overly focussed on short-term gains, aca-
Engineering or Materials Science. In so doing, much demia overly focussed on long-term objectives.
of its special knowledge would be lost. On the university/technikon side, there is often
little interest in seconding students to cooperative
3.3. Shortcomings in current hydrometallurgical programs, and there are few professors with any
education industrial background. (Industrial experience can be
seen as bstepping off the merry-go-roundQ as far as an
We in industry have grown increasingly disen- academic career is concerned. Unlike the social
chanted with the quality and relevance of the hydro- sciences where there is a constant exchange of people
metallurgical research carried out at universities. between government, academic, and commercial sec-
Quite frankly, there are few examples of significant tors, engineering careers tend to be beither/orQ propo-
contributions to the field of hydrometallurgy emerging sitions.) This leads to choices of research projects for
from academic institutions, and there are too many which no practical applications exist and graduates
instances of corporate sponsorship of university lacking relevant skills.
research in which the main target of the problem has
been lost (or superseded by a search for an esoteric 3.4. Recommendations for change
bfundamentalQ). Much of the research that eventually
is commercialized originates in corporate- or govern- Recognizing the maturity of our field, we may well
ment-funded industrial laboratories. The academics’ see its demise unless a proactive approach is urgently
response often is that their role is to train graduates taken by all stakeholders. To stimulate a revival of
and to perform bpureQ research, not to develop com- interest, we propose (i) expanding the scope of hydro-
mercially viable processes. Unfortunately, bpureQ metallurgy to hydrotechnology, (ii) reviewing the
research has, by definition, no immediate application extractive metallurgy curriculum, and (iii) improving
and, in its pursuit, the academics lose relevance and industry–university interactions.
risk their independent departmental stature. This, in To be consistent with the broader scope of hydro-
turn, places hydrometallurgy’s specialized knowledge technology (Table 1), a modern curriculum should
at risk (thus violating a third function of academia— include inter alia the following topics:
the preservation of knowledge). We argue that other
branches of engineering seem to be able to both ! Extraction and recovery of metals and minerals
educate and conduct relevant research, for example, from both traditional and non-traditional sources
M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88 85

(including processing of secondary materials and tunities for beneficial interactions also exist in the
effluents); field of energy conversion, particularly in the deve-
! Aqueous-based separations (IX, SX, precipitation lopment of novel batteries and fuel cells.
and crystallization, membranes, MRT);
! Aqueous- and organic-based electrochemistry (e.g.,
galvanic stripping of metals directly from a loaded 4. The way forward
organic phase (see O’Keefe et al., 2002));
! Waste solution treatment; 4.1. The implementation of change
! Aqueous-based environmental remediation tech-
nologies; It is clear that changes are needed. These require
! Aqueous-based production of fine and bulk efforts from both the academics, who produce the
chemicals; engineers of the future, and the industry that they
! High-tech applications of hydrotechnology; and ultimately serve.
! Aqueous-based corrosion science. In introducing students to the subject material, the
broad applicability of concepts should be taught,
All of these, in one form or another, involve the emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the field.
basic principles of hydrometallurgy. A holistic inte- This could be enhanced by formal interactions with
grated approach to the teaching of this subject is Chemical and Materials Engineering departments, and
envisaged, as shown in Fig. 1. Consider, for example, with departments such as Hydrology or those offering
that common hydrometallurgical concepts could be environmental training. The University of Melbourne
applied to the treatment of wastewater, environmental provides an excellent example of offering a Chemical
remediation, electroplating and electroforming, as Engineering degree combined with another discipline
well as the production of ceramic precursors. Many (Shallcross and Wood, 2001).
of these principles could also be successfully applied Contributions from industry must include the
to the manufacture of electronic devices and compo- development of well-structured and relevant coopera-
nents, the production of fine and high-purity chemi- tive programs or technical internships. The conside-
cals or of bulk chemicals, or to corrosion prevention. rable experience of industrial colleagues should be
Other areas in which commonality exists include aqu- recognized as a valuable untapped asset to be put to
eous processing for recycling or the treatment of use in assisting with the development of course mate-
wastes and by-products. Cross-pollination with the rial and, more importantly, in identifying and elabo-
rapidly expanding field of biotechnology could intro- rating case studies.
duce novel approaches to the use of microorganisms Industry must also assist in identifying and spon-
in metallurgical systems and provide a better under- soring undergraduate research projects, and by provi-
standing of the effects of biological systems. Oppor- ding vacation employment. Instead of using students

Mineral
Mining Leaching Separation Precipitn.
Processing

Waste / scrap / byproducts Electro-


metallurgy

Precursor
End of life Fabrication
prepn.

Fig. 1. Integration and inter-relationship of aqueous technologies in the complete lifecycle of a metal.
86 M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88

as a source of cheap labour (as often happens), they 5.2. Cooperative internship programs
should be properly mentored and given a drealT project
with tangible results, preferably with measurable tech- There are some very successful engineering pro-
nical or cost benefits to their employer. grams that require that students combine academic
training with hands-on work experience. There are
many ways in which this can be done, ranging from
5. Training the extractive metallurgists of the alternating periods of study and work, to concurrent
future work and study. The challenge for educators and
students in the field of extractive metallurgy is that
We appreciate that the focus of this paper is edu- work-related employment is often not available in the
cating hydrometallurgists, but we would like to extend local community. Instead desirable positions often end
the discussion to extractive metallurgy in general. up being in other states and other countries. The
Several issues should be addressed beyond those dis- establishment of a viable cooperative program
cussed in the preceding section. becomes more difficult, in that immigration, housing,
and transportation issues can become very complex
5.1. Life-long learning and expensive to resolve. These issues are, however,
not insoluble, as evidenced by a very innovative
In an increasingly technologically complex world, course run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technol-
the need for life-long learning is essential, as graduate ogy (MIT) in their Chemical Engineering Department.
course material becomes obsolete or irrelevant within This program, supported by companies from North
a relatively short time frame. All that undergraduate America, Europe, and the Far East, attracts students
educators can hope to achieve in the longer term is to from around the world (O’Connor et al., 1999; John-
teach their students how to teach themselves, inculcate ston et al., 1994).
some of the love of learning and the self-discipline
necessary for this to happen, and to give them a sound 5.3. Case studies
basis in logical, deductive reasoning. Rather than just
concentrating on students who have recently com- Business schools have for many years recognized
pleted their high-school diplomas, the recognition of the pedagogical advantages gained through the exam-
the needs of mature students should be paid more ination and evaluation of real corporate experiences—
attention, particularly in the design and structure of both good and bad. It is strongly recommended that
short courses and distance-learning programs. Indus- the use of appropriate case studies be considered in
try needs to support this process by creating opportu- engineering courses. Not only do these offer the
nities for this to happen, including support of opportunity to learn specific technical details of a
employees (both financial and by giving them time particular industry, but they expose students to com-
off their normal duties) and by contributing the mon pitfalls that arise, teach them to consider alter-
experience of senior personnel to, for example, opera- native approaches to solving problems, and,
tions management courses and in discussions of pro- importantly, to learn that commercial technical deci-
ject management and teamwork. sions are seldom made on the basis of technical
Other subject material that becomes increasingly reasons alone.
important as engineers move up the career path In the light of recent corporate embarrassments that
includes finance courses, various human resource have received international publicity (one is reminded,
topics, and environmental regulations. for example, of Enron, Bre X, Chernobyl, Union
The increasing use of the Internet and the World Carbide in Bhopal), there is a resurgence of awareness
Wide Web will enhance possibilities for distance of corporate responsibility which chemical, engineer-
learning (location-independent learning) and for asyn- ing, and mining companies cannot escape. Too often
chronous learning. It is important to note the distinc- engineering students (in comparison to their liberal
tion between and shift in emphasis from dteachingT to arts counterparts) seem to be far removed from the
dlearningT. social concerns of their times. It is appropriate that
M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88 87

aspects of engineering ethics be debated in our grad- As mentioned, a significant global shift has
uating classes. A classic engineering case study is the occurred in mining practice from the developed to
whistle blower case of the faulty O-rings on the the developing world. While most sites are massive
Challenger space shuttle (Boisjoly, 1987). Extractive operations, there are also microdeposits that are
metallurgy no doubt has examples that could be simi- exploited by just a few miners. While these small
larly used. operations are very important in terms of the local
Exposure to soft issues, environment, community, economy they support (as evidenced by small-scale
economics needs to come later in the degree program. gold mining in Peru), they are often very destructive
Often these issues are presented very early in the under- to the environment in terms of the wholesale exploita-
graduate curriculum, but until the student has had some tion of the land and the poorly managed use of
work experience, the application and implications of reagents such as mercury, causing widespread con-
these concepts are not appreciated. Colorado School of tamination of local and, sometimes, distant ecosys-
Mines has one of the better curriculums in this regard. tems. While it is tempting for the industrialized world
For example, the mining industry in many developing to bemoan this poor application of extractive metal-
countries is severely impacted by the AIDS epidemic. lurgy, a South African commitment to providing tech-
(South Africa estimates that approximately 30% of nical, advisory and educational resources to this
mine workers are now HIV-positive, while Papua historically under-serviced sector is a step towards
New Guinea estimates that 37% of their population improving this situation (Zenzele, 2002). Based on a
could die from AIDS within the next 20 years (Anon, model that has been very successful particularly in
2002)). Multi-national Anglo American’s approach to south-east Asia and Latin America, the objective of
dealing with this burgeoning crisis (Anglo American the Zenzele initiative (meaning dself-relianceT in Zulu)
Corporation, 2005) could make a topical subject for is to encourage and support the micro- and small-scale
debate on soft issues of corporate responsibility. mining sector by providing training in appropriate,
Despite the growing technological basis of our environmentally benign, and safe mineral beneficia-
lives, there remains a worldwide trend towards scien- tion technologies, and assisting with their implemen-
tific illiteracy. Rational debate of popular emotive tation in the field. The European Union has supported
issues would not only bring students into contact the development of similar small-scale mining educa-
with real-world issues, but may also help to dissemi- tional centres in Brazil and Zambia.
nate more objective viewpoints into their broader Much has been published on the training of che-
communities and the public perceptions. A good mical engineers with a view to sensitising them to
example is a discussion of the misinformation that issues of sustainable development (Azapagic, 2001;
recently circulated in full-page advertisements spon- Overcash, 2001). It is vital that a similar approach be
sored by the anti-cyanide lobby. Other subjects of more convincingly incorporated into modern extrac-
topical interest could include debates on the use of tive metallurgy curricula: we ignore the clamours of
nuclear power, or the chemical and health effects of the green movement at our peril (Conrad, 1992).
the burning oil wells in Iraq following the Gulf War.

5.4. Issues of the environment and sustainable 6. Conclusions


development
During the past decade in particular, it has become
As discussed by Nicol (2000), there is little doubt abundantly clear that the traditional field of hydrome-
that one of the most important factors guiding the tallurgy has changed enormously, and there is a cor-
direction of hydrometallurgy in the next decade will responding need for both those training graduates and
be the environment. Increasing resources will be those employing graduates to adapt and contribute to
directed at solving problems of current and future this process. Unless hydrometallurgy wishes to be
waste products, including cyanide residues from relegated to a niche technology in the margins of
gold processing, zinc leach residues, and heavy engineering, the focus of the topic should be broa-
metal-containing dusts from electric arc furnaces. dened, with a far greater emphasis on multi- and
88 M.B. Mooiman et al. / Hydrometallurgy 79 (2005) 80–88

cross-disciplinary approaches to the subject material. Fisher, K.G., 1987. Refining of gold at the Rand Refinery. In:
Making this vision a reality is not only the responsi- Stanley, G.G. (Ed.), The Extractive Metallurgy of Gold in
South Africa, The South African Institute of Mining and Metal-
bility of academia; the support and leadership of lurgy, Monograph Series M7, vol. 2. Chamber of Mines of
industry are vital. South Africa, Johannesburg, pp. 615 – 654.
Fleming, C.A., 1992. Hydrometallurgy of precious metals recovery.
Hydrometallurgy 30, 127 – 162.
Acknowledgements Habashi, F., 1993. A Textbook of Hydrometallurgy. Métallurgie
Extractive, Sainte Foy, Québec, p. 689.
We wish to pay tribute to our respective teachers, Ichiishi, S., Izatt, S.R., Bruening, R.L., Izatt, N.E., Dale, J.B., 2000.
mentors, and the many colleagues who have enriched A commercial MRT process for the recovery and purification of
rhodium from a refinery feedstream containing platinum group
our career experiences in hydrometallurgy through the metals (PGMs) and base metal contaminants. Proceedings 24th
years. The views presented in this article are the Annual International Precious Metals Institute Conference, Wil-
personal opinions of the authors and do not necessa- liamsburg, VA, p. 11.
rily reflect those of our employers. Johnston, B.S., Meadowcroft, T.A., Franz, A.J., Hatton, T.A.,
1994. The M.I.T. Practice School: intensive practical education
in chemical engineering. Chemical Engineering Education 28
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