Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Mining Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Urmia University, Urmia, Iran

2 School of Mining Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Faculty of Engineering, University of Kashan, Kashan, Iran

4 Complex of Copper Processing, Sungun, East Azerbaijan Province, Headquarters Rd, Tabriz, Iran

5 School of chemistry, University of Lincoln, Joseph banks laboratories, Green lane, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom


Due to anthropogenic activities of arsenic, its contamination has been widely recognized as one of the most consequential environmental pollutants. This study aims to investigate the possible controlling factors in the amount of arsenic in copper concentrate of the Sungun processing plant – located in northwestern Iran. For this purpose, via utilization of process mineralogy approach, an attempt is made to provide a mineralogical-based approach to reduce or remove As from copper concentrate. Chemical analysis of flotation circuit products shows changes of 0.13-1.00% for As in concentrate, and up to 0.003% for tailings. Arsenic is recovered to concentrate in the form of sulfosalt minerals including tennantite and enargite, along with copper sulfides. In order to reduce the arsenic in copper concentrate, flotation tests are performed in Eh values of +300, +200, +100, 0, -100, -200, and -300 mV. Based on the results, a re-flotation step on copper concentrate with a pulp potential range of -300 to +300 mV is conducted as an effective and optimal solution to reduce the amount of As. At a potential of -100 mV, Cu-As minerals (tennantite and enargite) tend to be depressed, and at +300 mV, these minerals tend to float. During the processing circuit, via flotation of particles with a size of -25 μm and adjusting the pulp potential to +300 mV, it is possible to produce two copper concentrates with low arsenic content (< 0.2%) and high arsenic content (> 0.2%). The first concentrate, which is flotation tailings, can be sold in the same way. The second one can be sold after complete removal of arsenic by leaching and then collection of harmful gases.


[1]. Padilla, R., Rodríguez, G. and Ruiz, M.C. (2010). Copper and arsenic dissolution from chalcopyrite–enargite concentrate by sulfidation and pressure leaching in H2SO4. Hydrometallurgy, 100(3-4), 152-156.
[2]. Awe, S.A. and Sandström, Å. (2010). Selective leaching of arsenic and antimony from a tetrahedrite rich complex sulphide concentrate using alkaline sulphide solution. Minerals Engineering, 23(15), 1227-1236.
[3]. Long, G., Peng, Y. and Bradshaw, D. (2012). A review of copper–arsenic mineral removal from copper concentrates. Minerals Engineering, 36, 179-186.
[4]. Lane, D.J., Cook, N.J., Grano, S.R. and Ehrig, K. (2016). Selective leaching of penalty elements from copper concentrates: A review. Minerals Engineering, 98, 110-121.
[5]. Malhotra, D. and Harris, L. (1999). Review of plant practice of flotation of gold and silver ores. In Advances in Flotation Technology as held at the 1999 SME Annual Meeting (pp. 167-181).
[6]. Musu, E., Cama, J., Da Pelo, S. and Lattanzi, P. (2009). The reaction of enargite with alkaline NaClO solutions: an AFM and flow-through study. European Journal of Mineralogy, 21(1), 193-202.
[7]. Curreli, L., Garbarino, C., Ghiani, M. and Orru, G. (2009). Arsenic leaching from a gold bearing enargite flotation concentrate. Hydrometallurgy, 96(3), 258-263.
[8]. Lee, J., Acar, S., Doerr, D.L. and Brierley, J.A. (2011). Comparative bioleaching and mineralogy of composited sulfide ores containing enargite, covellite and chalcocite by mesophilic and thermophilic microorganisms. Hydrometallurgy, 105(3-4), 213-221.
[9]. Senior, G.D., Guy, P.J. and Bruckard, W.J. (2006). The selective flotation of enargite from other copper minerals—a single mineral study in relation to beneficiation of the Tampakan deposit in the Philippines. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 81(1), 15-26.
[10]. Smith, L.K. and Bruckard, W.J. (2007). The separation of arsenic from copper in a Northparkes copper–gold ore using controlled-potential flotation. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 84(1-4), 15-24.
[11]. Shibayama, A., Tongamp, W., Haga, K. and Takasaki, Y. (2010). Removal of arsenic in enargite from copper ores by flotation and leaching in NaHS media. In XXV International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC 2010) Proceedings, Brisbane, QLD, Australia (pp. 1603-1611).
[12]. Plackowski, C., Nguyen, A.V. and Bruckard, W.J. (2012). A critical review of surface properties and selective flotation of enargite in sulphide systems. Minerals Engineering, 30, 1-11.
[13]. Gul, A., Bulut, G. and Sirkeci, A.A. (2013). Beneficiation of arsenic bearing complex sulphide ore by flotation. Physicochemical Problems of Mineral Processing, 49(1), 203-212.
[14]. Fornasiero, D., Fullston, D., Li, C. and Ralston, J. (2001). Separation of enargite and tennantite from non-arsenic copper sulfide minerals by selective oxidation or dissolution. International Journal of Mineral Processing, 61(2), 109-119.
[15]. Guo, H. and Yen, W.T. (2005). Selective flotation of enargite from chalcopyrite by electrochemical control. Minerals Engineering, 18(6), 605-612.
[16]. Haga, K., Tongamp, W. and Shibayama, A. (2012). Investigation of flotation parameters for copper recovery from enargite and chalcopyrite mixed ore. Materials Transactions, 53(4), 707-715.
[17]. Haga, K., Tongamp, W. and Shibayama, A. (2012). September. Separation of enargite from Cu-concentrate. In Proceedings of the XXVI International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC), New Delhi, India (pp. 24-28).
[18]. Tayebi-Khorami, M., Manlapig, E., Forbes, E., Bradshaw, D. and Edraki, M. (2017). Selective flotation of enargite from copper sulphides in Tampakan deposit. Minerals Engineering, 112, 1-10.
[19]. Hassanpour Kashani, R. (2021). Investigation of arsenic removal in the final concentrate of Sungun copper concentrators. MSc thesis in minerals processing, Urmia University.
[20]. Smith, L.K., Davey, K.J. and Bruckard, W.J. (2012). The use of pulp potential control to separate copper and arsenic–an overview based on selected case studies. In Proceedings of the XXVI International Mineral Processing Congress (IMPC), New Delhi, India (pp. 24-28).
[21]. Suyantara, G.P.W., Hirajima, T., Miki, H., Sasaki, K., Kuroiwa, S. and Aoki, Y. (2020). Effect of H2O2 and potassium amyl xanthate on separation of enargite and tennantite from chalcopyrite and bornite using flotation. Minerals Engineering, 152, 106371.