1Mining and Metallurgical Engineering Department, Yazd University
2Mining Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Tarbiat Modares University
3School of Chemical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran
Kinetics of the chemical leaching of chalcocite from a low-grade copper ore in a ferric sulfate medium 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 Eh, pH, and temperature. The leaching rate increased with increase in the temperature. About 50% of the Cu recovery was obtained after 2 hours of reactor leaching at 75 o C using the -0.5 mm size fraction. Also about 50% of the Cu recovery was obtained after 60 days of column leaching for the +4-8 mm size fraction. For the fine-particle leaching, the first leaching step was fast, and the rate controlling step was diffusion through the liquid film. The results obtained show that as the leaching proceeds, the chemical reaction control appears. Finally, accumulation of the elemental sulfur layer in the solid product together with the jarosite precipitate causes change in the controlling mechanism to solid diffusion. For the coarse-particle leaching, diffusion through the solid product appeared from the initial days of leaching.