I am involved in an extractive metallurgy project 1 day per week give or take.  So I have been trying to take apart undesirable minerals in an ore to concentrate the desired metal. It’s called beneficiation- a word introduced by Agricola in his book De Re Metallica published in 1556.  I can’t disclose what the desired metal is.  Suffice it to say that it is rather scarce though not a coinage metal. 

What really amazes me is the disconnect between what many of us think of as the field of inorganic chemistry and the field of extractive metallurgy.  In my training as an organikker, I had never been exposed to extractive metallurgy, nor did I even know what it was.  Turns out that it is a field of applied inorganic chemistry. In this field, a metallurgist is the person who figures out how to extract desired metals from ore.  Nobody seems to call them a chemist, at least to their face. They’re the metallurgist.  No doubt there are exceptions.

Well, that clears things up quite a bit. I feel better getting that off my chest.  I’m sure any wayward metallurgist who happens upon this site has already begun to laugh. Extractive metallurgists do synthetic inorganic chemistry. It’s just that they prefer to keep company with a gangue of engineers and geologists rather than those who don’t work with minerals.  I can relate.

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