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Mineral processing and extractive metallurgy

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Principal researchers:
Willy Kracht, Christian Ihle.
Academic associate researchers: Manuel Caraballo, Tomás Vargas, Leandro Voisin.
Associate researchers: Mabel Araneda, Melanie Colet, Humberto Estay.
Ph.D student: Francisca San Martín.
MSc. students: Velin Alexandrov, Matías Álvarez, Mabel Araneda, Jorge Casanova, Gonzalo Damm, Gonzalo Jéldrez, Carlos Hunt, Fabián Mancilla, José Mamani, Exequiel Marambio, Camilo Morales, Karl Mühlenbrock, Camila Pizarro.


Extracted minerals in a mining operation are made by different species. Some of them have comercial value, usually the least abundant ones, and other have little or no relative value. We define extractive metallurgy as the processes carried out to selectively separate species of interest from those without value. In general terms, it can be subdivided in four areas: Minerals processing, hydro-metallurgic processes, electro-metallurgic processes and pyro-metallurgic processes. Each one of these areas faces challenges of increasing complexity as a consequence of the sustained diminishing of laws of deposits, appearance of penalized elements and more demanding environmental regulations. This makes necessary to keep research, development and innovation that sustain adequate, efficient technologies. It is then indispensable to count with highly qualified human capital and appropriate facilities to develop pan activity known for an important experimental component.


The group’s goal is to generate knowledge, to formulate proceedings and to develop technologies that allow a better exploitation of available resources in currently-exploited deposits and in identified reserves and that can also face future challenges.

The research group seeks to satisfy dynamic demands in the minerals processing-extractive metallurgy market and has a training, multidisciplinary and integrative trait that gathers specialists in several disciplines in order to develop its projects.


The group develops applications in several areas of the mining process, such as:

  • Characterization of mining-metallurgic materials.
  • R&D&I of alternatives for minerals treatment and/or complex materials of processes.
  • Diagnosis, control and optimization of metallurgic processes.
  • Chemical and bacterial leaching of minerals and concentrates.
  • Characterization of air dispersion in flotation.
  • R&D&I in continuous processes regarding copper pyro-metallurgy.
  • Stabilization and/or neutralization of copper complex materials, rich in As and Sb impurities.
  • Electro-obtaining, electro-refining and electro-dialysis.
  • Multi-variable modelling and simulation of metallurgic processes.
  • Development of processes instrumentation.

Our projects in extractive metallurgy gather knowledge not only from different areas within the group, but also from other AMTC research groups, from areas such as stochastic modelling, image analysis, supercomputing, automation and processes control.

Research lines

  1. Fundamentals of in situ bacterial leaching in underground mining.
  2. New process of continuous conversion into blister copper.
  3. Recovery of phosphorous from mineral dumps using bacterial leaching.
  4. Development of instrumentation for characterizing air dispersion and foam concentration in the flotation process.

Fact sheet: Mineral processing and extractive metallurgy