Intensified Bioleaching of Copper from Chalcopyrite: Decoupling and Optimization of the Chemical Stage

Document Type: Research Article


1 Chemical Engineering Department, Sahand University of Technology, Tabriz

2 Chemical Engineering Department, Sahand University of Technology, Tabriz, Iran

3 Sahand University of Tecnology, Tabriz, Iran

4 Department of Process Design and Construction, Faculty of Petrochemicals, Iran Polymer and Petrochemical Institute, P.O. Box 14975-112, Tehran, Iran


A one-stage process for the bioleaching of copper from chalcopyrite has a low leaching rate compared to the conventional smelting, pressure oxidation, and roasting routes, thus reducing the economic viability of the process. It is therefore crucial to optimize the process and the associated rate-influencing factors to make it competitive with the traditional proven technologies. A strategy to intensify the extraction process is the decoupling of the chemical and biological stages, which expands the attainable region for the optimization of the variables. In the present research, the decoupled optimization of the chemical stage in the copper bioleaching of a chalcopyrite ore from the Iranian Sungun mine at East Azerbaijan was investigated. The factors affecting the rate of oxidation of chalcopyrite were determined and optimized with a (realistic) priori prepared bio-related medium. The optimized variables included the reaction temperature of 70 °C, ore particle size of 0.65 μm, pH of 1.8 in the leaching solution, ferric ion concentration of 0.1 of the stoichiometric value (0.0022 mol per gram of chalcopyrite), and redox potential ~406 mV. Overall, the effect of redox potential on the extraction rate was the most pronounced such that the leaching rate was increased by about three times in the potential range of 401.0–405.8 mV relative to other ranges.


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