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Leaching of brannerite in the ferric sulphate system — Part 1: Kinetics and reaction mechanisms

Gilligan, R. and Nikoloski, A.N. (2015) Leaching of brannerite in the ferric sulphate system — Part 1: Kinetics and reaction mechanisms. Hydrometallurgy, 156 . pp. 71-80.

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The uranium titanate mineral brannerite, UTi2O6 is the most common of the uranium minerals which is considered refractory. Ore containing brannerite mineralisation has been mined and processed in several locations around the world. Under typical uranium ore processing conditions, brannerite is often lost to tailings. In order to design an effective process for the leaching of high-brannerite uranium ores, it is first necessary to understand the mechanism of the chemical processes through which brannerite dissolves in the absence of interferences from the host rock. In the present study, a specimen of brannerite obtained as a single crystal was leached in sulphuric acid (10-200 g/L) and ferric sulphate (2.8 g/L Fe3 +) solution at 25-96°C for 5 h. The rate of titanium dissolution was monitored along with uranium. Comparisons between the rates at which these two elements dissolved and the morphological changes that were observed to take place during the dissolution process indicated two different sets of leaching reaction mechanisms. At low temperatures, uranium dissolved at a much higher rate than titanium initially, leaving titanium rich areas on the brannerite particles similar to observations reported in earlier investigations which suggest incongruent dissolution. The calculated activation energies for uranium and titanium dissolution were 36 and 48 kJ/mol respectively. At higher temperatures, uranium and titanium dissolved at similar rates in constant proportions suggesting congruent dissolution. The calculated activation energy for this reaction was 23 kJ/mol. The transition between incongruent and congruent dissolution took place at lower temperatures when the acid concentration was higher. Titanium appeared to undergo hydrolysis after dissolution, forming anatase. This side reaction was most favourable at lower acid concentrations and high temperatures.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: Crown Copyright © 2015
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