Abstract: Currently, the high demand for copper is in direct contrast with the decrease in the mineral grade and, more significantly, the concerns regarding the environmental impact that arise as a result of processing such low-grade materials. Consequently, new mineral processing concepts are needed.
This work explores the chemical dissolution of chalcopyrite concentrate at ambient pressure and moderate temperatures in a deep eutectic solvent. Copper and iron are dissolved without changing their oxidation state, without solvent pH change, and stabilized as a chloride complex with no
evidence of passivation. Chemical equilibria of the metallic chloride complexes limit the dissolution, and the step that is rate-controlling of the kinetics is the interdiffusion of species in the solvent. The chemical mechanism may involve initial chloride adsorption at positive sites of the solid surface, pointing out the importance of surfaces states on chalcopyrite particles. A model based on a shrinking particle coupled with pseudo-second-order increase in the liquid concentration of copper describes
the dissolution kinetics and demonstrates the importance of the liquid to solid ratio. Iron and copper can be recovered separately from the solvent, which highlights that this concept is an interesting alternative to both redox-hydrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy to obtain copper by the processing of chalcopyrite concentrate.
Keywords: copper metallurgy; chalcopyrite; deep eutectic solvent; choline chloride ethylene glycol; non-redox leaching; dissolution kinetics; copper chloro-complex