Sintering operation in the production of Zn, Cd, and Pb by Waelz process produces a powdery waste containing mainly (about 70%) ZnO, CdO, and PbO. The waste may be referred to as Waelz sintering waste (WSW). The aim of this study is to develop a process for the separation and recovery of the metals from WSW with high purities. The process is based on the dissolution of the WSW in aqueous SO2 solution. The research reported here concentrated on the effect of some important operational parameters on dissolution process. The parameters investigated and their ranges were as follows: SO, gas flow rate (V); 38-590 ml/min, stirring speed (M; 100-1000 rpm, reaction temperature (7); 13-60 degrees C, reaction time (t); 1-16 min, and solid-liquid ratio (S/L); 0.1-0.5 g/ml. The results showed that the dissolution rate increased with increasing W, V, and S/L and decreasing T. The best dissolution conditions were found to be V=325 ml/min, W=600 rpm, t=6 min, T=21 degrees C, and S/L = 0.1 g/ml. Separation of Zn from Cd involved precipitation of ZnSO3 from a mixture solution. The best pH level for the precipitation was observed to be 6. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.