Water is a truly unique substance in many respects. It is the only chemical compound that naturally occurs in all three physical states (solid, liquid and vapor) under the thermodynamic conditions typical to the Earth’s surface. It plays the principal role in virtually any significant geological and biological processes on our planet. Its outstanding properties as a solvent and its general abundance almost everywhere on the Earth’s surface has made it also an integral part of many technological processes since the very beginning of the human civilization.

Aqueous fluids are crucial for the transport and enrichment of ore-forming constituents (...

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