Chalcopyrite, CuFeS2, is an important source of copper and is recovered from ore by the flotation process. Chalcopyrite is commonly associated with other metal sulfides, e.g. bornite, Cu5FeS4. In this study the effect of bornite on the oxidation and leaching of chalcopyrite has been investigated by probing the surface evolution of pure chalcopyrite, bornite, and heterogeneous samples containing both chalcopyrite and bornite using Synchrotron X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (SXPS). Samples were freshly fractured in a N2 atmosphere and the resulting surfaces were oxidised in pH 9 KOH for 30 min or leached in pH 1 HCl for 2 h before being transferred into vacuum without leaving the N2 atmosphere. Analysis of the chalcopyrite region of each sample indicates that exposure to pH 9 for 30 min when bornite is present results in a decreased concentration of hydrophobic polysulfide species (from 43% to 36% of the total S 2p spectrum). In addition to this decrease in hydrophobic species, there is an increase in the amount of hydrophilic sulfate on the surface, from trace amounts to 3%. For those samples leached at pH 1 there was a small decrease in the amount of polysulfide species (43% to 39%), but also a slight increase in disulfide species (16% to 19%) indicating an alteration to the oxidation process at low pH in the presence of bornite.
- Synchrotron XPS