General Principle of Extraction of Metals, Chemistry Help

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The biggest source of metals is earth’s crust. Some other soluble salts of the metals are found in sea-water. Mostly in nature metals occur in combined state but sometimes free. The metals those are least reactive and those have little affinity for moisture, oxygen and other chemical reagents occur in metallic or free or native state example, in uncombined state. Generally the metals are reactive and thus they are found in combined state fro example as compounds.

The natural substances in which metals and their compounds occur in the earth are known as minerals. These mineral has a definite composition. It may be a single a complex mixture or compound. The minerals from which the metals can be economically and conveniently extracted are called ores. All the ores are also minerals but all minerals cannot be ores. i.e. both clay(Al2O3.2SiO2.2H2O) and bauxite (Al2O3. 2H2O) are minerals of aluminium. It is bauxite that is used for extraction of aluminium and not clay. In short bauxite is an ore of aluminium.These ores can be divided into four groups.

1. Native ores: Native ores contain metals in free states for examples silver, gold, mercury, platinum, copper etc. These ores are found generally associated with alluvial or rock materials like sand, clay etc. The lumps of pure metals are also found. These are known as termed nuggets.

2. Oxidised ores: In these ores. Metals are present as their oxysalts or oxides such as nitrates, carbonates, sulphates, silicates, phosphates etc.

3. Halide ores: Metallic halides are found very less in nature. Chlorides are most common example.


The complete process of finding pure metal from one of its ores is known as metallurgy. To find pure metal from its ores several chemical and physical methods are used and these methods are depend upon the nature of ore and local conditions and properties of metal. Thus it may not be possible to keep universal method for extraction off all metals from their ores.

Metallurgy of metal involves 3 types of operations:

  • Concentration or dressing
  • Reduction
  • Purification or refining

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