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Metals Extraction and Recovery Group (MERG)

The Minerals and Commodities industry in SA is large and as a Johannesburg based university, Wits is ideally situated to contribute to this market since the industry which is mostly associated with research in these areas is situated within the demographics of this School. The Metal Extraction and Recovery Group was established in April 2010 to revive research and postgraduate teaching in metal extraction and recovery with particular emphasis on hydrometallurgy.   


The fundamental aims of MERG are to train and educate students and conduct research in the field of hydrometallurgy in line with the Wits Research Strategic goals. The group therefore aims;

  1. To provide world class and adequate facilities for postgraduate training and research in the hydrometallurgy/ extractive metallurgy programme and subsequently become the top  choice industry-group alliance dedicated to the  training and research in extractive metallurgy in the province.
  2. To develop a portfolio of high quality fundamental research that maximise returns from processing of primary and secondary mineral resources whilst paying particular focus to the sustainability in hydrometallurgy and reduction of environmental impact across the hydrometallurgical industrial sector.
  3. To improve the performance and efficiency of hydrometallurgical /extractive metallurgy processes through the optimization of existing process routes and development   of new, potentially transformative, technologies. Technologies will be developed and transferred to industry with the goal of achieving materials sustainability from initial product design through manufacture to end-of-life disposition in a manner that yields both energy savings and profitability while keeping environmental impact to absolute minimum.
  4. To generate both fundamental and applied knowledge through high quality cutting edge research in the sub-disciplines of extractive metallurgy and transfer this knowledge to industry and related organizations through scientific papers conference proceedings, seminars, workshops, reports and lectures.


 Research in the group is divided mainly into 3 focus areas;

Sustainability in Hydrometallurgy

  • Processing of Waste Material; recyclable materials
  • Environmental Hydrometallurgy; industrial and mining effluent streams

Base Metal Extraction and Recovery

  • Fundamental leaching processes
  • Integration of Comminution and Leach Circuits
  • Electrometallurgy

Innovative Extraction processes

  • Gas Phase Extraction
  • Biohydrometallurgical Processing


MERG is currently involved in a number of hydrometallurgical research projects in this sphere and is home to a number of PhD and Masters Students. It is the hope of this research group to adequately educate and train students on the current state of the hydrometallurgical industry in order for them to be able to address the industrial needs and innovatively contribute to South Africa and the world. It is hoped that sufficient training will enable students to become future experts within the field so they can be able to identify areas in need of advancement. This provides them with a key to become the drivers for the development and adoption of new technologies and process routes throughout the minerals extraction industry.