A lixiviant is a liquid medium used in hydrometallurgy to selectively extract the desired metal from the ore or mineral. It assists in rapid and complete leaching. The metal can be recovered from it in a concentrated form after leaching.
Lixiviants may work by altering the redox state of an ore, or by altering the pH. Acidic lixiviants, such as sulfuric acid, are commonly used to leach base metals such as copper, whereas basic lixiviants such as a solution of sodium cyanide are used to leach precious metals.
In the United States, lixiviants which contact the environment are almost always oxidizers of neutral pH because this minimizes risk to the environment.
The origin is the word lixiviate, meaning to leach, to dissolve out, deriving from the Latin lixivium.
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