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    The kinetics of pyrite dissolution in nitric acid solution

    Teimouri, Samaneh, Potgieter, Johannes Herman, van Dyk, Lizelle and Billing, Caren (2022) The kinetics of pyrite dissolution in nitric acid solution. Materials, 15 (12). p. 4181. ISSN 1996-1944

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    Refractory sulphidic ore with gold captured in pyrite has motivated researchers to find efficient means to break down pyrite to make gold accessible and, ultimately, improve gold extraction. Thus, the dissolution of pyrite was investigated to understand the mechanism and find the corresponding kinetics in a nitric acid solution. To carry this out, the temperature (25 to 85 °C), nitric acid concentration (1 to 4 M), the particle size of pyrite from 53 to 212 µm, and different stirring speeds were examined to observe their effect on pyrite dissolution. An increase in temperature and nitric acid concentration were influential parameters to obtaining a substantial improvement in pyrite dissolution (95% Fe extraction achieved). The new shrinking core equation (1/3ln (1 − X) + [(1 − X)−1/3 − 1)]) = kt) fit the measured rates of dissolution well. Thus, the mixed–controlled kinetics model describing the interfacial transfer and diffusion governed the reaction kinetics of pyrite. The activation energies (Ea) were 145.2 kJ/mol at 25–45 °C and 44.3 kJ/mol at higher temperatures (55–85 °C). A semiempirical expression describing the reaction of pyrite dissolution under the conditions studied was proposed: 1/3ln(1 − X) + [(1 − X)−1/3 − 1)] = 88.3 [HNO3]2.6 r0−1.3 e−44280/RT t. The solid residue was analysed using SEM, XRD, and Raman spectrometry, which all identified sulphur formation as the pyrite dissolved. Interestingly, two sulphur species, i.e., S8 and S6, formed during the dissolution process, which were detected using XRD Rietveld refinement.

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