The aim of this study was to improve the dissolution of copper sulfide ore composed mainly of chalcopyrite (1.21 wt %) and bornite (0.54 wt %) using a pretreatment before leaching. The effect of the pretreatment on copper sulfide dissolution was investigated using different types of leaching. Three sets of experimental tests were performed (flask, reactor and mini-column). Using experimental design, three operational variables in the ore pretreatment were evaluated: chloride concentration (20, 50 and 90 kg/t), repose time (7, 20 and 40 days) and repose temperature (20 and 50 °C). A maximum of 93% copper dissolution was obtained when the ore was treated with 90 kg Cl−
/t ore, 40 d of repose time and 50 °C in flask leaching. Without any ore pretreatment, 53% copper dissolution was achieved. Using reactor leaching, an 85% copper dissolution was obtained using pretreatment stage. Without this pretreatment, only 55% copper dissolution was obtained. The final test, which involved leaching a pretreated ore in a mini-column at room temperature, yielded 49% copper dissolution. The data showed that repose time and temperature were the most important variables affecting copper extraction in the pretreatment stage. This study indicates that pretreatment has a positive effect on copper dissolution from primary copper sulfide ore in an acid-chloride medium. It also provides a feasible alternative for treating primary copper sulfide ores at the industrial level.
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