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Metals - Problems of Extraction
Recycling titanium would increase if more uses of titanium were found.

Metals - Problems of Extraction

In this GCSE Chemistry quiz, one in a series on the subject of metals, we look at some of the problems associated with the extraction of metals from their ores, such as the financial and the environmental costs.

Metallurgy is the science of metals and it has changed the way people live their lives. However, there are many issues involved with the extraction and processing of metals, from the initial removal of the ore from the ground to the production of the finished items. Some are purely environmental problems but others involve people too. For the GCSE, you need to be able to consider and evaluate the social, economic and environmental impacts of exploiting metal ores, of using metals and of recycling metals. But don't worry, much of it is common sense and some general knowledge. Several of the issues you learnt whilst studying the quarrying of limestone can be applied to mining.

Scientists have been looking for alternative methods to extract copper from the ground. One of these methods is bioleaching. What does bioleaching use to extract copper?
Bacteria live in the copper ore and break down the copper compounds. They produce acidic solutions which dissolve the copper compounds and these can be collected
It is better to recycle aluminium than to extract it from aluminium ore because...
aluminium ore produces only low grade aluminium
aluminium ore doesn't contain many impurities
mining for aluminium ore destroys the local environment
recycling of aluminium produces ‘smart’ aluminium alloys
Recycling won't bring back the area destroyed by the mining but it will slow down the amount of damage being done
Which of the following is a disadvantage of bioleaching rather than extracting copper by the traditional method?
Bioleaching is more economical
Bioleaching is slower
Bioleaching uses less energy
Bioleaching allows us to use low-grade ores
Bioleaching takes longer than traditional mining as you have to wait for the bacteria to 'do its thing'
Removing metal ores from the ground usually involves mining. Which of the following is NOT an environmental impact of mining?
Loss of habitat
Increase in global warming
Damage to the ozone layer
Noise pollution
Mining does not release CFCs, which are the leading contributor to damage of the ozone layer
Most titanium is extracted from titanium oxide ore. The oxide is first converted to titanium chloride. The titanium chloride is then reacted with sodium. This method of extracting titanium is very expensive. Recycling titanium would increase if...
the cost of sodium were to fall
new high-grade deposits of titanium oxide were discovered
the cost of titanium were to fall
more uses of titanium were found
There would be more of an incentive to recycle
Recycling metals is often thought of as a better way to provide more metals. Which of the following is NOT an advantage of recycling?
Destruction of habitats
Preserves natural resources
Decreases landfill space required
It is cheaper than extraction from the ore
Even with the costs of transport, recycling usually requires less energy than starting from an ore which requires a lot of treatment and transport before it can reach the same point as the metal being recycled
A disadvantage of extracting aluminium from aluminium ore is...
aluminium ore is a limited resource
aluminium ore contains very small amounts of aluminium
the aluminium obtained corrodes easily
the aluminium obtained has a high density
The deposits of aluminium ore are a finite resource, i.e. they will run out eventually
If aluminium cans are not recycled, they can have a huge impact on the environment in which of the following ways?
They produce poisonous gases
They cause acid rain
They fill up landfill rubbish tips
They corrode rapidly in lakes and rivers
It is better to crush cans for recycling as it means that more can be transported in fewer journeys, saving more energy
Economically, it is more sensible to recycle aluminium, because extracting it from its ore...
uses much larger amounts of energy
is a relatively cheap process
employs more people
takes a long time
Electrolysis uses huge amounts of electrical energy. Generating this electricity has an effect on the environment as well as the extraction process
Some iron is obtained by recycling scrap iron. Why does it take less energy to make iron from scrap iron than to extract the iron from its ore?
Scrap iron does not have to be reduced using carbon
Scrap iron contains the element sulfur
Scrap iron is an alloy
Corrosion of the scrap iron makes it easier to melt
To extract iron from haematite requires iron to be heated with carbon. This uses huge amounts of energy and requires other resources to be mined (limestone and coal)
You can find more about this topic by visiting BBC Bitesize - Metals and their extraction

Author:  Kate Gardiner

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