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Prof Christie Dorfling

Inaugural lecture:

18 April 2024 @ 17:3019:00

Hydrometallurgical extraction of metals from primary and secondary resources

Metal production from primary resources is becoming increasingly difficult due to the gradually decreasing grades of ore bodies, the evaluation of alternative, more complex ore bodies, and increasingly stringent environmental policies and regulatory requirements. In the search for novel processes to address these challenges, hydrometallurgy is often considered a potentially suitable technology for metal recovery. In addition, hydrometallurgical processes will play an important part in the treatment of secondary metal resources such as industrial waste (e.g. mine tailings) as well as rapidly growing consumer waste streams (e.g. end-of-life electrical and electronical equipment). The effective treatment of such secondary resources is important from both an economic and an environmental management perspective, and is required to support the global drive towards a circular economy.

This presentation offers an overview of research in the field of hydrometallurgy, with a focus on modelling, optimising and intensifying existing hydrometallurgical processes as well as process development for metal recovery from secondary resources. The research includes experimental investigation as well as fundamental modelling of hydrometallurgical processing steps such as leaching, solution purification (e.g. solvent extraction, ion exchange, and precipitation) and metal production (e.g. electrowinning). These activities are supplemented with the development of possible process flowsheets, associated techno-economic evaluation of processes as well as environmental impact assessments to inform decision-making about process selections and identify technical areas requiring further research and development.


Short biography

Christie Dorfling started his career as an engineer in the Measurement and Control Division at Mintek, having obtained his BEng (Chemical) degree from Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2005. He went on to complete his MPhil (Advanced Chemical Engineering) at the University of Cambridge and his PhD at SU in 2008 and 2012 respectively. He has been a full-time academic staff member in SU’s Department of Chemical Engineering since 2009.

His research interests in the field of hydrometallurgy include the characterisation and modelling of leaching systems, the recovery of base and precious metals from leach solutions, and the development of processes for metal recovery from low-grade ores and secondary resources. Prof Dorfling has supervised three PhD and 37 MEng (Research) students to completion and previously served as undergraduate programme coordinator in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He has also held the office of departmental chair since 2021.



18 April 2024

Organizer (event)

Amira Brown


Reitz Hall, Engineering Faculty
156 Banghoek Road, Stellenbosch Central
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7605 South Africa
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