Research and Teaching Interests
Hydrometallurgy, solvent extraction, electrochemical kinetics, waste treatment, biohydro-metallurgy, ion exchange, process modelling
Current Research Work
My interests lie in the area of technology development and technology transfer. The Hydrometallurgy Chair has allowed me to become intimately acquainted with “state-of-the-art” hydrometallurgical practice. I have visited virtually every major hydrometallurgical facility in Canada and many of those in the U.S. and outside North America. The Chair program has allowed me to freely discuss my ideas with Chair supporters and to learn what challenges and needs exist within the Hydrometallurgy industry. This has led to industrially oriented research projects. These projects have an end result in mind but delve deeply into the fundamental science of the field. Key results achieved by my group at UBC include:
- Development of an enhanced ion exchange method for removing antimony and bismuth from copper refinery electrolyte. Our development of a pre-reduction solution treatment resulted in a U.S. patent being granted. The process has been licensed by the University to Noranda Inc. and has undergone commercial development at the CCR Copper Refinery in Montreal, Canada.
- Development of a new process for the recovery of copper from copper matte. This process has been patented in the United States and is currently under patent application worldwide. The process has been licensed by the University to BHP Copper for commercial development and is undergoing pilot scale evaluation.
- Development of an ion exchange process for iron control in copper electrowinning operations. This process has grown out of our work on antimony and bismuth removal and has been performed in collaboration with Eichrom Industries of Darien, Illinois. This process has been patented in the United States and is currently under patent application worldwide. The first commercial installation has been commissioned at the Mexicana de Cobre operation in Cananea, Mexico. The second is about to be started at the Mt. Gordon Copper Company in Australia.
- Patenting of a new process for recovery of copper from chalcopyrite concentrates. This process has been developed in concert with Anglo American Corporation and is known as the AAC/UBC Copper Process. The process is owned by Anglo American Corporation but ½ of the royalties from licensing of the process to others are given to the University.
- Invention with others of the PLATSOL process for recovery of base and precious metals (platinum, palladium, gold, other platinum group elements). This process is under worldwide patent application and worldwide development.
- Development of a process for the recovery of gold from carbonaceous, refractory gold ores. This work began in our laboratory at U.B.C. and has since gone on to further development at Lakefield Research in Ontario. The process has been patented in the United States (2 U.S. patents) and is being evaluated for commercial development by Barrick Gold Corporation.
- The generation of new information on the oxidative pressure leaching of zinc and copper concentrates and the role of liquid sulfur and surfactants in the leach chemistry.
- Development of a fundamental understanding of the copper-antimony process for the removal of cobalt from zinc plant electrolytes.
- Development of fundamental understanding of the leaching behaviour of oxides, sulfides and arsenides leading to process improvements at INCO Limited’s CRED plant in Sudbury, Canada.
- Helping Rayrock Mines understand and optimize the biological leaching of copper from secondary sulfides in a saline environment. This information was used in the development of the Ivan Mine in Chile.
- Develop a fundamental understanding of the electrochemistry of nickel plating (and hydrogen evolution) in mixed chloride-sulfate baths.
- Generally cultivate and grow a vibrant University-Industry interface in the field of Hydrometallurgy. This has led to the expansion of the group of Hydrometallurgy Chair supporters to 17 and the establishment of two new Chairs – The Industrial Research Chair in Biohydrometallurgy and the NSERC/Industry Research Chair in Aqueous Electrometallurgy.
Refereed Journal Publications
Refereed Conference Proceedings