Many metals are found in their ores as oxides or sulphides. The principal copper-containing ore is chalcopyrite, CuFeS2. There are a number of stages required in order to separate the copper from the ore. After mining the ore is crushed and ground into small pieces in order to liberate the copper crystals.
|Anode:||Cu(s) Cu2+(aq) + 2e-|
|Cathode:||Cu2+(aq) + 2e- Cu(s)|
Extraction of a metal from an ore causes a number of environmental problems:
In America 10% of all copper produced comes from bacteria which feed off chalcopyrite. The overall process involves bacteria converting insoluble chalcopyrite into a solution of iron(III) sulphate and copper(II) sulphate. This process is cheaper, quieter and less polluting than the smelting process, but it is much slower. The solution produced still needs concentrating, reduction of the copper prior to final purification.
Part of this site was last updated on 21st January 2009.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 England & Wales Licence.
Copyright © Article Gems 2006-09.