School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Introducing Nanomaterials into Extractive Metallurgy – Meet Jinsong Xia

Robert M. Buchanan Department of Mining PhD, candidate   

by Phil Gaudreau, April 2021

Jinsong Xia

When you need to separate a precious metal from the minerals surrounding it, you usually turn to a field of engineering known as hydrometallurgy.

First, you dip the ore in a water-based solution to dissolve the metals. Next you need to collect those metals from the solution.

Jinsong Xia is testing a new way of doing this.

Specifically, Xia is working with nanomaterials which he proposes can be used to separate the metals from the liquid.

“When I was in materials science and engineering, I saw and fabricated myself several nanomaterials and how they are going to make significant changes to the world,” says Xia. “Nanomaterials are not often used in the hydrometallurgy process, but the materials we use are more efficient, low cost, and environmentally friendly and we hope to evolve the gold extraction process from what it was designed in 1970. Mining operations are usually gigantic and the cost is very high, so any improvement can bring a huge impact.”

Xia completed his master’s degree in material science and engineering in his home country of China. Once he decided he wanted to continue his studies, Xia looked at the various PhD positions from around the world.

“One of the PhD positions was with Ahmad Ghahreman at Queen’s,” says Xia. “I was interested in Dr. Ghahreman’s research, so eventually I contacted him and had a really good interview. He is a knowledgeable and wise supervisor, and that is why I chose to come here.”

Xia came to Canada in 2019 and has since been enjoying his time at Queen's and in Kingston.

“At Queen’s, you’re surrounded by talented students and great professors and you can learn so many things here,” says Xia. “The school is also beautiful. It’s near Lake Ontario, which is my favorite place.”

Although COVID-19 has halted most in-person activities on campus, Xia is, with the right precautions, still able to access the labs to continue his research. Once he completes his PhD, Xia is interested in staying in the academic world by teaching.

“I still haven’t decided what I want to do yet, though I would like to stay in academia,” says Xia. “I want to explore and experience different countries but I might stay in Canada.”

When he’s not studying or working in the lab, he spends his free time reading all kinds of books as part of his spiritual beliefs. He also recently signed up for the Queen’s archery club.

To learn more about graduate programs within the Robert M. Buchanan Department of Mining at Queen’s University, visit their website.