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Processes - Non-Ferrous (Aluminum / Copper / Zinc / Lead / Magnesium): Overview

Production processes for primary non-ferrous materials, produced from mined ore, are covered in this section. Energy use data for secondary melting processes are also included. Depending on the material, over 25% to approaching 70% of the total production is recycled from recovered scrap and re-melted.

The proportion of the U.S. supply of metals derived from secondary sources is shown below. Different sources provide somewhat different figures, but these numbers are reasonable and indicate the relative level of secondary processing for each metal.

A good source for recycling information, with descriptions of both the processes involved and market factors influencing recycling rates, can be accessed in a series of documents issued by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). Each document dealing with a specific metal.

The following Advisor pages provide an overview of primary process information for all the Non-ferrous metals included in this module. The attached PDF produced by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) provides fairly detailed summaries of mining, ore processing, and mining related process recovery operations for Copper, Zinc and Lead. It was produced in 2001 and includes process diagrams and a mining-related glossary.