The process of mining is removing valuable materials from the earth, in the form of ore or minerals. The process of Extractive Metallurgy is when the ore or material removed is refined and raw metals or minerals are removed and put into a form that is more pure.
To remove certain sulfides or metal oxides from an ore the ore must be treated wither chemically, physically or electrically. Extractive metallurgy deals with three streams of materials, concentrate, which is the metal oxide or sulfide that is valuable, feed, and waste or tailings.
After mining a ore or a substance large pieces of the ore are reduced or broken down with crushing or grinding to get smaller particles to deal with. The particles are then either mostly metal and valuable or mostly waste and disposable.
Mining can be sometimes avoided if it can be accessed through leaching, or having the mineral dissolved into a solution. Then the solution is collected and the material is extracted from the solution.
Ore can be containing more than one valuable metal. Sometimes the waste material is used to help remove a second material from the ore after the first valuable metal has been removed using extractive metallurgy. The same can sometimes be true of leaching and concentrate, sometimes there is a second substance that can be removed from the concentrate.
The five most valuable metals that are commonly removed through Extractive metallurgy are Iron, Aluminum, Copper, Zinc, and Magnesium. They tend to be hard and strong materials, and are solid at room temperature. Metals are conductors of heat and dense, and have high melting points.
Each of these materials can be removed using Extractive Metallurgy and each are metals that are used commercially and have economic value. They are removed and used in industry and construction of many different products.