The leaching of chalcopyrite with cupric chloride

Research paper by Tetsuji Hirato, Hiroshi Majima, Yasuhiro Awakura

Indexed on: 01 Mar '87Published on: 01 Mar '87Published in: Metallurgical and Materials Transactions B


A comparative study of electrochemical leaching and chemical leaching of chalcopyrite was performed mainly at 343 K to elucidate the leaching mechanism of chalcopyrite with CuCl2. Also, the morphology of the leached chalcopyrite surface was studied by using a single chalcopyrite crystal. The leaching with CuCl2 produced a porous elemental sulfur layer on the chalcopyrite surface, showing a similar morphology to that produced during leaching with FeCl3. The leaching kinetics were found to be linear over an extended period, followed by an acceleration stage, as a result of an increase in the reaction surface area. The leaching rate of chalcopyrite was proportional to C(CuCl2)0.5, whereas it was inversely proportional to C(CuCl)0.5. The mixed potential of chalcopyrite exhibited a 66 mV decade−1 dependency upon C(CuCl2), and—69 mV decade−1 upon C(CuCl). Based on these observations together with other findings, an electrochemical mechanism involving the oxidation of chalcopyrite and CuCl−2 and the reduction of CuCl+ was proposed. The Tafel plot between the mixed potential and the current density obtained by converting the rate of chemical leaching gave a straight line whose slope was in good agreement with that of the electrochemical leaching. These findings strongly support the electrochemical mechanism of chalcopyrite leaching with cupric chloride.