Recent research publications in extractive metallurgy were analysed for their stated and self-evident objectives. Over 100 different objectives (not specific to a metal or unit operation) were identified. These were divided into groups of economic, environmental, professional and fundamental significance. Comparisons were made of the objectives adopted in universities, industry and national research organisations. The most common primary and secondary objectives (by a large margin) were “to develop a new process (different chemistry)” and “to determine the effects of variables on a process” respectively. It was concluded that, overall, recent research has been dominated by commercial objectives. Objectives related to thermodynamics and kinetics have been the most common of the fundamental sort. Those related to professional methods in general, sensors and process dynamics, among others, have been largely neglected.