Students from Year 7 to 10 with an interest in Science had the chance to explore metallurgy and mining careers recently, thanks to a visit from Rio Tinto and Murdoch University’s STEM outreach program.
They were given some insight into the mining industry in WA, and then participated in experiments demonstrating how copper is produced from azurite ore through electrolysis, after dissolving the ore in hydrochloric acid solution. “The students were amazed to see shiny metal sheets produced from an ordinary looking rock,” said Head of Science, Mr Mel Defrancesco.
The chemistry behind the extraction processes was then related back to what actually happens in the minerals industry, so students gained some idea of what it’s like to be a metallurgist for a day.
The highlight for students was watching the spectacular ‘thermite’ reaction demonstration, producing plenty of heat, fire, light and sparks as well as oxidized aluminium and iron metal.