Effect of Curing Time on Copper Leaching From Chalcopyrite

Additonal authors: Roca, A.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Quezada, V. A.

The leaching pretreatment of copper ores is widely used in the Chilean mining industry. Agglomeration and acid curing have been identified as the most useful pretreatments. Of these, acid curing was recognized as beneficial in the dissolution of copper minerals, even in sulphides such as chalcopyrite. Extensive acid curing times have an impact on copper extraction, generate a homogeneous acid distribution in the mineral bed and benefit the inhibition of aluminum-silicate minerals (acid consumers). This document describes some of the theoretical background and results regarding the effect of acid curing in a chalcopyrite sample with 74% purity according to Qemscan analysis and a 28.5% of total copper. Leaching tests are carried out at 25, 50 and 70°C, evaluating the effect of a pretreatment on the chalcopyrite dissolution. The original sample and products generated were characterized by X-ray diffraction analysis and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The performed experiments indicate a direct relation between the effect of curing time and temperature in copper extraction. 92% of copper can be extracted in a leaching at 70°C and with 15 days of curing. Elemental sulfur, jarosite and copper polysulfide (CuS2) have been detected in leaching products. INTRODUCTION The copper extraction from minerals is a technique that has been developed for hundreds of years in the world. In 2017, the largest copper producer was Chile, exported 5.5 million tons (COCHILCO, 2018). However, in order to preserve this production level means overcoming multiple challenges. In the case of the Chilean copper deposits, the average copper grade in 2016 was 0.65%, lower than the 1% declared in 2004 (Consejo Minero, 2018). This is mainly due to the deeper of the deposits reaching sulfide mineral zones, mainly chalcopyrite. Traditionally, these sulfurized zones ore are treated through concentration by flotation and subsequent pyrometallurgical treatments. However, for some copper companies it is complex to process by this alternative, due to the high costs and high rates of water consumption. The mineral resources of these companies are known as "low-grade sulfides" and do not allow, economically, the treatment of these minerals through concentration by flotation. This is how hydrometallurgy becomes an alternative for the treatment of this type of deposits. In addition, several companies have hydrometallurgical plants, which would allow the operational continuity of these plants.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019