Opportunities Offered by Emerging Hydrometallurgical Technologies

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Opportunities Offered by Emerging Hydrometallurgical Technologies

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University of Minnesota Duluth


Technical Report


Minnesota has abundant mineral resources, including deposits of iron, iron manganese, copper-nickel- cobalt-platinum group elements, titanium-vanadium, copper-zinc, gold with and without silver, sand, and aggregate. Commercial and industrial byproducts such as mine tailings, industrial residues, and waste electrical and electronic equipment also contain valuable mineral resources. To address significant environmental impact concerns associated with mining, collection and processing of these materials, new processing technology approaches with reduced water and energy consumption and minimal environmental footprints are needed to support production of value-added products. Emerging hydrometallurgical processing technologies offer promising opportunities. Hydrometallurgy techniques have a range of applications from extraction of high-value products from mineral and recycled materials to water remediation to generating secondary products for carbon sequestration. To evaluate the technical, economic, and environmental resiliency of emerging hydrometallurgical innovations, the Minnesota Legislative-Citizen’s Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) provided funding to the Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) to evaluate how to best support the development of emerging hydrometallurgical technologies in the state. To support this effort, NRRI evaluated: 1) A summary of perceived current and future hydrometallurgical needs of stakeholders based on a “voice of customer” (VOC) survey. 2) A discussion of how to apply hydrometallurgical capabilities to Minnesota-specific mineral and waste resources to maximize long-term economic, environmental, and social benefits and resilience. 3) A vision developed to advance Minnesota’s research capabilities in mineral characterization, mineral processing, extraction, and refining via hydrometallurgy that will lead to more efficient and effective utilization of Minnesota minerals and waste resources in the future. This research digs deeper into emerging applications of hydrometallurgical techniques in the production of value-added materials from a range of primary and secondary resources. The report also explores how application of these techniques to regional resources could potentially foster a more diversified minerals economy in Minnesota, develop treatment technologies to protect water resources, utilize regional resources for carbon mineralization, and supply materials required to build clean energy technologies.


An earlier version of this report, "Developing Emerging Hydrometallurgical Technologies," was previously available at this link. Changes to this updated version include the new title and a new order of authors.

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Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR)

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Rao, Shashi; Mlinar, Matthew A; Hudak, George J; Kangas, Kevin W; Peterson, Dean M. (2022). Opportunities Offered by Emerging Hydrometallurgical Technologies. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/241496.

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