Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Transactions home

  SME FaceBook SME Twitter SME LinkedIn RSS Feed

Discovery of a new source of unavoidable ions in pyrite aqueous solutions

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2013, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 117-121

Xian, Yongjun; Wen, Shuming; Liu, Jian; Deng, Jiushuai; Bai, Shaojun


The release of fluid inclusions has a strong potential for the unintentional activation of pyrite during flotation. The present study aims to characterize fluid inclusions in a natural pure pyrite. The results indicate that a certain amount of fluid inclusions exist in the pyrite. The fluid inclusions assume a variety of shapes, including long strips, oval shapes and irregular shapes, with sizes that range from a few microns to dozens of microns. From the EDS results of hollow positions that resulted from the fracture of the fluid inclusions on the pyrite surface, certain amounts of Al, Cr, C, O, Ag and Cu were clearly detected; these elements were not detected in FeS2 pyrite itself. The contents of the inclusions were released into solution when the sample was subjected to a grinding process. Under experimental conditions of 2 g of pyrite cleaned in 40 mL of pure deionized water under an inert atmosphere, the concentrations of Cu, Fe, Cl- and SO42- released from the inclusions reached concentrations of 3.29 × 10-6, 32.52 × 10-6, 51.57 × 10-6 and 75.90 × 10-6 mol/L, respectively. These values are significantly greater than those from the experimental nonoxidative and oxidative dissolution of the pyrite. The fluid inclusions of pyrite were, therefore, concluded to represent the dominant sources of Cu, Fe, Cl- and SO42- in the aqueous solution. The present investigation provides a new understanding of the source of the unavoidable metal ions in the pulp and may benefit understanding of the flotation theory and environmental geochemistry.