Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

Eung Ha Cho.


Chalcopyrite is the most important copper mineral source and also a refractory mineral for leaching. Several processing routes have been proposed to overcome the environmental problems related to copper extraction from chalcopyrite. In this study, the leaching of chalcopyrite has been investigated with a new reagent sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl). Experiments were carried out in two stages: conversion of chalcopyrite to cupric oxide with NaOCl solution in the first stage, followed by dissolution of the cupric oxide to cupric ion with 1 normal sulfuric acid at room temperature in the second stage. In the first stage leaching, the initial pH varied from 12.5 to 13.7; the temperature, from 35 to 75°C; NaOCl concentration, from 0.2 to 0.85 molar; and the chalcopyrite dosage, from 1 to 10 grams/500 ml. The leaching conversion showed a maximum (68.3%) around pH 13.2 at 0.5 molar of hypochlorite concentration and 65°C in 1 hour. The reagent consumption ratio, defined as the number of moles of hypochlorite consumed to leach one mole of chalcopyrite is found to be much higher than its stoichiometric ratio of 8.5. It reached 57.6 when the solid dosage was 1 gram/500 ml and decreased to 12.9 when the solid dosage was increased to 10 grams/500 ml. It was found that the leaching rate of chalcopyrite in the first stage was controlled by chemical reaction with the activation energy of 50.2 kJ/mol (12.0 kcal/mol). A leaching scheme was identified in which 98% chalcopyrite was leached by adding hypochlorite stock solution stepwise in less than three hours.