To better understand chalcopyrite leach mechanisms and kinetics, for improved Cu extraction during hydrometallurgical processing, chalcopyrite leaching has been conducted at solution redox potential 750 mV, 35-75 °C, and pH 1.0 with and without aqueous iron addition, and pH 1.5 and 2.0 without aqueous iron addition. The activation energy (Ea) values derived indicate chalcopyrite dissolution is initially surface chemical reaction controlled, which is associated with the activities of Fe3+ and H+ with reaction orders of 0.12 and -0.28, respectively. A surface diffusion controlled mechanism is proposed for the later leaching stage with correspondingly low Ea values. Surface analyses indicate surface products (predominantly Sn2- and S0) did not inhibit chalcopyrite dissolution, consistent with the increased surface area normalised leach rate during the later stage. The addition of aqueous iron plays an important role in accelerating Cu leaching rates, especially at lower temperature, primarily by reducing the length of time of the initial surface chemical reaction controlled stage.
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- Surface chemical reaction