The role of iron-hydroxy precipitates in the passivation of chalcopyrite during bioleaching

M.B. Stott, H.R. Watling, P.D. Franzmann, David Sutton

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Abstract

The bioleaching of chalcopyrite an acidic sulphate nutrient medium was investigated using Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans, a moderately thermophilic iron- and sulphur oxidising bacterium. Copper release to solution was initially rapid but this slowed significantly after about 50 hours. The decrease in chalcopyrite dissolution rate coincided with significant precipitation of jarosite on the mineral surface. Cultures of the moderately thermophilic acidophilic bacteria Acidimicrobium ferrooxidans, Sulfobacillus acidophilus and Sulfobacillus thermosulfidooxidans were grown in anaerobic media containing chalcopyrite passivated by jarosite. The moderate thermophiles used the ferric ion in the jarositic surface precipitate as a terminal electron acceptor in place of oxygen in the anoxic environment. Despite extensive bioreduction of the iron-hydroxy precipitates, it was found that the jarosite was not completely removed and that subsequent biooxidation of the treated concentrate achieved no significant increases in copper release compared with concentrate that had not been subjected to prior biooxidation or bioreduction. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1127
JournalMinerals Engineering
Volume13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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