Copper is mined from sulphide and oxide ores. 80% of all mined copper is smelted from sulfide ores. Because they contain a large amount of waste rock, ore before smelting enriched. The process of production of copper consists of several operations: smelting, roasting, converting, electrolytic and fire refining.
A large part of impurity of sulphides in the firing process turns into oxides. For example, the main impurity of many copper ore FeS 2 — pyrite is converted into Fe2 O3. Gases generated in the firing process, contain SO2 are used to produce sulfuric acid. Oxides of zinc, iron and other impurities, which are obtained at the time of firing, smelting separates the slag. Liquid copper matte (Cu2 S and FeS mixture) is loaded into the Converter, through which is blown air. In the process of converting the obtained crude or blister copper and is allocated the sulfur dioxide.
In order to extract the valuable elements (Ag, Au, Te, etc.), and also for removal of various harmful impurities, the blister copper is first exposed to fire, and then electrolytic refining. Liquid copper fire-refining process is saturated with oxygen. The impurities of zinc, cobalt and iron, with oxidized, is then transferred to the slag, and then removed, the copper is poured into the forms. These castings serve as the anodes in electrolytic refining.
The main component of the electrolytic solution copper sulfate because it is the most common and cheapest salt of copper. In the electrolyte sulfuric acid is added to increase conductivity CuSO4. Also, the solution is injected a small amount of additives to achieve a compact copper precipitate. Impurity metals contained in the «rough» crude (unrefined) copper, divided into two groups.
1. Au, Ag, Pb, Sn. Noble metals (Ag, Au) does not undergo anodic dissolution, to form together with other impurities anode slimes are periodically removed. Together with copper, dissolved lead and tin, but in the electrolyte are formed slightly soluble compounds that precipitate and are removed.
2. Zn, Fe, Co, Ni. These metals have a much more negative electrode potential than copper, therefore, they dissolve along with the copper from the anode but at the cathode, precipitate, and sulfate accumulate in the electrolyte. In this regard, the electrolyte requires periodic replacement.
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