A study of factors influencing the kinetics of copper cementation during atmospheric leaching of converter matte
The kinetics of copper cementation during atmosphere leaching of a Ni-Cu matte in CuSO4-H2SO4 solution was studied as a function of initial copper ion concentration, initial add concentration, temperature, stirring rate, particle size distribution and pulp density. It was found that all these process variables influenced the rate of cementation. A two-stage rate of reaction was observed in most of the experiments, with the rate of cementation in the initial stage being slower than that of the subsequent second stage. The increased rate of cementation in the second stage was attributed to the enhancing effect of the surface deposit. The cementation process was found to take place by two different rate-controlling mechanisms. At a temperature range of 50-70°C, an activation energy of 74.6 kJ/mol was obtained, indicating a surface reaction controlled process. At higher temperatures (70-80°C) a lower value of activation energy was observed (18.2 kJ/mol), indicative of a process controlled by diffusion through surface layers. The structural characteristics of the cemented deposit could not be determined in the investigated system where the deposit was mixed with the leach solid residue. © The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2005.