Indexed on: 04 Dec '11Published on: 04 Dec '11Published in: International Journal of Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials
The kinetics of the chemical leaching of copper from low grade ore in ferric sulfate media was investigated using the constrained least square optimization technique. The experiments were carried out for different particle sizes in both the reactor and column at constant oxidation-reduction potential (Eh), pH values, and temperature. The main copper mineral was chalcopyrite. About 40% of Cu recovery is obtained after 7 d of reactor leaching at 85°C using −0.5 mm size fraction, while the same recovery is obtained at 75°C after 24 d. Also, about 23% of Cu recovery is obtained after 60 d of column leaching for +4-−8 mm size fraction whereas the Cu recovery is as low as about 15% for +8-−12.7 and +12.7-−25 mm size fractions. A 4-stage model for chalcopyrite dissolution was used to explain the observed dissolution behaviors. The results show that thick over-layers of sulphur components cause the parabolic behavior of chalcopyrite dissolution and the precipitation of Fe3+ plays the main role in chalcopyrite passivation. In the case of coarse particles, transformation from one stage to another takes a longer time, thus only two stages including the initial reaction on fresh surfaces and S0 deposition are observed.