Short Course


Take advantage of the additional professional development opportunity offered in conjunction with Hydrometallurgy Symposium and deepen your knowledge of mineral processing.

Solvent Extraction Technology Applied to Metals Recovery

Saturday and Sunday, August 26-27, 2023 | 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

$500 Member | $610 Nonmember

Short courses are an additional ticketed function.

Course registration includes:

  • Course notes
  • Lunch and coffee breaks
  • 14 PDH


Solvent extraction (SX) is typically only one unit process in a series of unit processes to recover and purify metals.  It has been used commercially to recover uranium since the mid-1950s and copper since 1968.  The list of metals recovered commercially using SX include uranium, copper, cobalt, nickel, zinc, rare earths, vanadium, molybdenum, rhenium, germanium, platinum group metals and others.  The value of solvent extraction lies in its ability to deliver high purity final products and in its flexibility to accommodate changing conditions in the feed to the SX circuit. This course provides a broad, in depth introduction to the use of solvent extraction in hydrometallurgical applications. The various extractants, diluents and modifiers, if needed, are covered in some detail. The importance of knowing what metal and nonmetal species are in the solution to be treated is discussed. Research from simple laboratory shakeout tests to full pilot-scale test work needed to generate requisite data for flowsheet and equipment design is presented. The use of isotherms generated in the laboratory to facilitate flowsheet development is illustrated using examples of commercial SX processes. Common operating problems are discussed and several unexpected technical problems that required significant work to understand and solve will also be discussed.



  • General Principles, Objectives of Solvent Extraction, Metal Species Extracted Commercially

Components of the Organic Phase in a Solvent Extraction Plant

  • Reagents Types
  • pH extraction isotherms for metals
  • Synergistic Mixtures
  • Modifiers
  • Diluents
  • Sources of organic losses

The Copper Solvent Extraction Process

  • Chemistry of the copper leach/ solvent extraction / Electrowinning Process
  • General structure of oxime copper extractants
  • Extraction isotherm data, McCabe Thiele diagram
  • Problems with various species in the copper leach solution
  • Degradation of oxime copper extractants
  • Solvent extraction staging, mixer settler designs and other equipment
  • Mass balances
  • Mixing continuity
  • Coalescers in SX plants
  • Crud and crud treatment, Clay treatment to clean the organic phase
  • Copper L/SX/EW plants (2021)

Copper Extraction in the Presence of Cobalt

  • Sable Zinc site


Uranium Solvent Extraction

  • Uranium SX, reagent, extraction and stripping chemistry
  • Uranium SX in the presence of molybdenum (rhenium extraction in the presence of molybdenum)
  • Uranium SX in the presence of vanadium
  • Vanadium +5 solvent extraction
  • Olympic Dam copper and uranium SX plants

Nickel Solvent Extraction Coupled with Cobalt Recovery from Laterite Ores

  • Ammonia Leach Solutions
  • Queensland Nickel Flowsheet, need for improved Ni and Co recovery, new Queensland nickel flowsheet including Ni SX and benefits of SX
  • Sulfuric acid leach solution
    • Case flowsheet
    • Murrin Murrin Flowsheet, Co SX selective over Ni
    • Goro Flowsheet, Co and Ni co-extraction from dilute acid sulfate solution
    • Cobalt extraction selective over Ni from acid chloride solution

Solvent Extraction of Palladium

  • Rustenburg PGM Refinery

Zinc Solvent Extraction

  • Skorpion Zn L/SX/EW plant

Germanium Solvent Extraction

  • Teck zinc plant at Trail, BC

Two Interesting Reagent Degradation Problems

  • Nitrate degradation of Oxime Copper Extractants
  • Ammonia degradation of Betadiketone Copper Extractant LIX 54

Gary A. Kordosky, PhD, Retired, part-time consultant
Michael Virnig, PhD, Retired, part-time consultant

Both instructors earned a PhD, Dr. Virnig in Organic Chemistry from Iowa State University and Dr. Kordosky in Inorganic Chemistry from The Ohio State University. Dr. Virnig was heavily involved in synthesizing metal extractant molecules to extract various metals and technical service to solve operating plant problems. Dr. Kordosky was heavily involved in testing new extractant molecules, flowsheet development and in troubleshooting problems in operating SX plants. Dr. Virnig was the 2015 inductee in Metallurgy into the International Mining Hall of Fame, organized with Hatch as the lead sponsor. Dr. Kordosky is the 2013 Wadsworth awardee for his “lifelong contributions to the advancement of SX technology.”