Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
STUURMAN, S.; NDLOVU, S. and SIBANDA, V.. Comparing the extent of the dissolution of copper-cobalt ores from the DRC Region. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.4, pp. 347-349. ISSN 2411-9717.
Inorganic acids such as sulphuric acid have found use together with certain reducing agents in leaching of copper-cobalt oxide ores. These reagents are not ideal due to the adverse effect the inorganic acids generally have on the environment and the high costs of the reducing agents. In this study a copper-cobalt oxide ore from the Central African Copperbelt was leached in two different environments; sulphuric acid in conjunction with hydrogen peroxide as a reducing agent and tartaric acid. The effects of acid concentration, reducing agent concentration, and temperature were independently determined for both leaching environments. The sulphuric acid concentration was varied between 0.4 M and 1.2 M and the concentration of hydrogen peroxide between 4.0 M and 6.5 M, while the tartaric acid concentration was varied between 0.15 M and 0.35 M. The temperature was varied between 20°C and 50°C. The results showed that the extraction of both copper and cobalt increased with sulphuric acid concentration, reaching a peak at approximately 0.8 M and then decreasing at higher acid concentrations. A similar increase and decrease in metal extraction was observed when the reducing agent was increased. In leaching with tartaric acid, the extraction of cobalt was much higher than that of copper, although extraction of both metals increased with acid concentration. Additions of small amounts of hydrogen peroxide were found to increase cobalt extraction in tartaric acid but had a minimal effect on copper. An increase in the solution temperature had a significant effect in the organic acid environment, with the effect on cobalt extraction being much more pronounced than on copper.
Keywords : leaching; copper; cobalt; sulphuric acid; hydrogen peroxide; tartaric acid; reducing agent.