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An experimental investigation of some factors influencing the rate of leaching of the Britiannia ore. Hansuld, John Alexander

Abstract

Experimental investigations are carried out to establish a satisfactory technique and to study some factors -- variations in the chemical character of the attacking solutions, rate of flow, and the effect of pyrite -- influencing the rate of leaching of the Britannia copper ore. The natural leaching phenomenon at the Britannia Mine is described and brief geological descriptions are listed of other mines from which copper recovery is made from the mine water. The general chemical and physical principles involved in the leaching of copper sulphide ores are reviewed. Samples taken from the Britannia Mine are crushed, sorted according to size, oven heated to destroy any bacteria, packed in glass tubes, and leached with different chemical solutions at various rates of flow. The chemical character of the attacking solutions is the key factor in determining the rate of leaching. Ferric sulphate and sulphuric acid increase the rate of leaching up to 600 times and 33 times that of pure water respectively. Changes in the rate of flow are of secondary importance and determine the range of fluctuations in the rate of leaching around an order of magnitude dependent on the chemical character of the attacking solutions. The ore with the smaller chalcopyrite to pyrite ratio is more readily attacked than the one with the greater ratio. Leaching of copper ores in place may be increased by attacking them with solutions of sulphuric acid and/or ferric sulphate. This may be accomplished by the recirculating of the conditioned mine waters after the extraction of the copper.

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