Dr Michael Virnig is the 2015 inductee in Metallurgy into the International Mining Technology Hall of Fame, organised with Hatch as the lead sponsor. He is currently Global SX Technology Consultant at BASF Mining Solutions. His primary contribution in the advancement of the SX process was the development of various LIX® products. He coordinated several production and manufacturing processes from the lab bench to commercial scale and directed research projects which account for the development of an extensive range of oxime extractants for the extraction of copper, nickel, silver or gold – such as LIX 34, a reagent for the extraction of copper from acidic leach liquors, LIX 7820 and LIX 79, for the recovery of gold and silver from alkaline cyanide leach liquors or LIX 622N and LIX 622, two formulations for the extraction of copper from acidic sulphate leach liquors.
The leaching of ores – such as copper, nickel or cobalt – followed by solvent extraction (SX) has been practiced commercially since the late 1960s. Since this SX reagent introduction, considerable research efforts have taken place to make solvent extraction processes more efficient, more selective and more economical. Virnig has been a strong contributor to the advancement of these reagent extractants for over four decades – with considerable success.
From the beginning, his focus was the development of new SX reagents for the recovery of metals from aqueous leach solutions. He has been responsible for numerous programs which targeted the development of new SX reagents and applications and has provided technical support to customers at mine sites.
Since his retirement in April, 2012 he has continued to work as a consultant in support of BASF Mining Solutions to the present time. As a result of his dedication and efforts, he is an inventor or co-inventor of 71 US patents and author or co-author of more than 30 technical papers on various aspects of metal recovery by solvent extraction and ion exchange technology in the mining industry.