Abstract: Dissolution kinetics of digenite (Cu9S5) was studied in Fe3+-H2SO4-NaCl media. The temperature range for the study was between 297 and 373 K (24 and 100°C), with a ferric concentration between 0.0100 and 0.0806 mol/dm3, a sulfuric acid concentration of 0.05 to 1.5 mol/dm3 and a NaCl concentration of 1.5 to 5 mol/dm3. Agitation speed and particle size were also studied. Results indicate that the dissolution mechanisms of digenite occurs in two stages: i) generation of covellite (CuS) with the formation of cupric ion (Cu2+) and ii) dissolution of covellite (CuS) with copper production in the system, as well as amorphous sulfur (S°). The second stage occurred very slowly compared to the first stage, the above variables studied directly affected the second stage. Temperature, Fe3+ and H2SO4 concentration positively affected dissolution of covellite formed (second stage), while the presence of NaCl did not increase dissolution of Cu9S5 or CuS. Results showed that stirring speed had an important role in the dissolution rate of CuS. Dissolution kinetics was analyzed using the model of diffusion through the porous layer. Covellite dissolution reaction order was 2.3 and 0.2 with respect to the concentration of ferric and sulfuric acid, respectively, and the rate was inversely proportional to particle size. The calculated activation energy was 36.1 kJ/mol, which is a typical value for a reaction controlled by diffusion in the porous layer at temperature between 297 and 373 K (24 and 100°C). 

Keywords: dissolution kinetics, digenite, covellite, diffusion