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Microwave Assisted Leaching of Sulphide Minerals: A Fundamental Case Study

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The understanding of the mechanisms by which microwaves act upon leaching systems is of particular importance for efficient microwave processing and also to determine the optimum microwave leaching conditions and potential scale up. This work reports a fundamental study on the influence of microwave energy on the dissolution of sulphide minerals. Chalcopyrite and sphalerite were chosen as model materials due to their economic importance and the diversity of their heating behavior in a microwave field. This work reports the basics of microwave heating principles with focus on the interaction between microwaves and materials (solids and liquids). It includes also a comprehensive literature survey on the application of microwaves in extractive metallurgy as well as experimental study on the leaching of both chalcopyrite and sphalerite using different leaching systems under both conventional and microwave conditions. Measurement of dielectric properties of solids and liquids has been carried out using both cavity perturbation and coaxial probe techniques. Finally, numerical electromagnetic simulations was carried for the leaching process.

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