Copper adsorption reaction rate and ion exchange ratio during the copper activation of sphalerite
Jian Liu 1,2  
,   Deqiang Luo 2,   Lingyun Huang 1,   Yu Wang 2,   Shuming Wen 1
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State Key Laboratory of Complex Nonferrous Metal Resources Clean Utilization, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming 650093, China
Faculty of Land Resource Engineering, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming 650093, China
Jian Liu   

Kunming University of Science and Technology, 68, Wenchang road 121 Sreet, 650093 Kunming, China
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2018;54(2):377–385
A theoretical analysis method of the solution chemistry characteristic of Cu(II) at various pH values was developed. Using such method, the existence form of Cu species and their proportions in aqueous solution can be clearly determined. After that, the copper adsorption and ion exchange ratio (E) during the copper activation of sphalerite were investigated. The results indicated that the copper activation of sphalerite can be divided into two stages, i.e., the fast activation stage (t ≤4 min) and slow activation stage (t >4 min). The general form of the copper adsorption rate was determined as ΓCu=K1ln(t) +Γ1, which is confirmed by the data fitting of the fast activation stage. The lower activation pH results in higher ion exchange efficiency for Cu substituting Zn. For a strong acid pH of 4.1, the E maintains about 1:1 in the entire activation time range and is not dependent on the activation time. However, the value of E is greater than 1 under weak acidic (pH=6.2) and alkaline (pH=9.1) pH conditions and it significantly depends on the activation time. For such conditions, E decreases with increase in the activation time, which supports the ion exchange mechanism, but within short activation time, it is not a 1:1 ion exchange process.
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