Our primary area of interest is hydrometallurgical processing of resource materials. Our group has been involved in the development of new technologies for metals recovery (e.g. gold and copper) and immobilization of toxic species (e.g. arsenic and mercury). Our long-term research goals at Queen’s University focus on the extractive metallurgy and mineral processing aspects associated with the following research areas:
- Hydrometallurgy and bio-hydrometallurgy: The key research activities in this area are to advance the fundamental and technical understanding of the aqueous industrial processes and development of novel processes for sustainable and environmentally friendly hydrometallurgical treatment of resource materials. Some of the interesting topics in this area are:
- Thiosulfate and cyanide leaching of complex gold.
- Processing of complex sulfide concentrates, such as Enargite (Cu3AsS4) and Chalcopyrite (CuFeS2).
- Solvent extraction, ion exchange and electrowinning.
- Mineral processing wastes and their remediation: Some mineral processing wastes may have irremediable impact on the environment, and solutions to these problems can be developed through well-designed university level research programs. Among the interesting topics in this area are arsenic and mercury.
- Electrochemical dissolution of complex minerals (fundamental studies): The dissolution process of most sulfide minerals (e.g. chalcopyrite, pyrite, enargite, etc) is electrochemical in nature, and well-planned electrochemical studies appear to be the only way to reveal the underlying mechanism of the associated leaching reactions. Fundamental electrochemical studies enable us to understand the mechanisms of dissolution, passivation and catalysis and these are closely linked to successful process design.
- Flowsheet design and modeling: Modeling of the processes is the preferred method for studying of the alternative process configurations. Models enable us to reveal some issues such as water balance or excess acid generation, which initially were not apparent. Generally, the research in this area will focus on the development of mass and energy balances models for mineral processing and metallurgical operations. Variety of software, including OLI, HSC, METSIM, Excel, etc, are used in these studies.