Environmental and socioeconomic impact of copper slag—A review

Tlotlo Solomon Gabasiane, Gwiranai Danha, Tirivaviri A. Mamvura, Tebogo Mashifana, Godfrey Dzinomwa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Copper slag is generated when copper and nickel ores are recovered from their parent ores using a pyrometallurgical process, and these ores usually contain other elements which include iron, cobalt, silica, and alumina. Slag is a major problem in the metallurgical industries as it is dumped into heaps which have accumulated into millions of tons over the years. Moreover, they pose a danger to the environment as they occupy vacant land (space problems). Over the past few years, studies have been conducted to investigate the copper slag-producing outlets to learn their behavior, as well as properties of slag, to have the knowledge of how to better reuse and recycle copper slag. This review article provides the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of slag, as well as a characterization of copper slag, with the aim of reusing and recycling the slag to benefit the environment and economy. Recycling methods are considered an attractive technological pathway for reducing waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as promoting the concept of circular economy through the utilization of waste. These metal elements have value depending on their characteristics; hence, copper slag is considered as a secondary source of valuable metals. Some of the pyrometallurgical and hydrometallurgical processes to consider are physical separation, magnetic separation, flotation, leaching, and direct reduction roasting of iron (DRI). Some of the possible metals that can be recovered from the copper slag include Cu, Fe, Ni, Co, and Ag (precious metals).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1504
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 3 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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