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The term hydrometallurgy (formerly also: wet metallurgy ) is understood to mean the entirety of the processes of metal extraction and refining that exploit the substance-specific solubility and different wettability of the elements and their compounds at low temperatures compared to pyrometallurgy .


Hydrometallurgical processes are for example

  • the liquors and as the special case of the pressure digestion of ores in an autoclave,
  • the flotation separation of sulphidic ores from disruptive elements ( gangue ) that reduce process efficiency ,
  • extraction and refining electrolysis based on the different separation potentials of the elements ,
  • the gravity separation in thickeners,
  • the PUREX process used in nuclear fuel reprocessing .


These processes are used, for example, for the extraction of copper , nickel and cobalt .

See also