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The mechanism of the dissolution and passivation of chalcopyrite: An electrochemical study

Nicol, M. and Lazaro, I. (2003) The mechanism of the dissolution and passivation of chalcopyrite: An electrochemical study. In: 5th International Symposium on Hydrometallurgy in Honor of Professor Ian Ritchie (Hydro2003), 24 - 27 August 2003, Vancouver, Canada


A detailed study has been undertaken into the electrochemistry of the leaching of chalcopyrite in acidic solutions containing ferric ions. Mixed potential measurements have shown that the maximum potential achievable on a chalcopyrite disk in a ferric sulfate medium lies within the so-called passive or prewave region in the anodic behavior of chalcopyrite. The very low current densities due to the anodic oxidation of chalcopyrite at potentials in the region of the mixed potential has made studies of the initial stages of dissolution difficult. However a careful rotating ring-disk electrode (RRDE) study has enabled data to be obtained for the stoichiometry of the initial dissolution reaction to be obtained. Thus, in addition to the detection of soluble iron and copper as products in this potential region, a soluble sulfur species has also been detected. A comparison of the experimental with the expected collection efficiencies of the products on the ring has revealed that this soluble sulfur species is likely to be thiosulfate.
The characteristic transient anodic behaviour of chalcopyrite in this potential region has been interpreted in terms of a rate limiting solid-state diffusion process. Thus, extrapolated rates based on reported measured solid-state diffusion coefficients for the mineral at elevated temperatures have been shown to be consistent with the potentiostatic current-time transients. Furthermore, comparative studies of the anodic characteristics of the copper sulfide minerals covellite and bornite has confirmed their greater reactivity in this potential region.

The results of this investigation have been combined with a parallel study of the non-oxidative behaviour of chalcopyrite in order to derive a model for the dissolution process which is consistent with other published studies of the electrochemistry and dissolution of the mineral.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Chemical and Mathematical Science
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