Specific gravity: 4.1 to 4.3
Hardness: 3½ to 4
Streak: Greenish black
Colour: Brass yellow, often with an iridescent tarnish
Solubility: Moderately soluble in nitric acid
Plutonic igneous environments
Chalcopyrite is the most widely occurring copper mineral. It is a
In contact metamorphic environments it may be associated with molybdenite.
In hypothermal (high temperature) and mesothermal (moderate temperature) veins and replacement deposits it occurs associated with galena, sphalerite and dolomite. It may contain gold or silver. Chalcopyrite is often present in large bodies of pyrite. Primary chalcopyrite readily alters to the secondary minerals bornite, covellite and brochantite, and also malachite, azurite, langite and numerous other secondary copper minerals.
At the Blue Points mine, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, chalcopyrite is associated with galena, and minor pyrite and marcasite (R&M 94.4.319).
At the Thunder Bay Amethyst Mine, Thunder Bay District, Ontario, Canada, chalcopyrite has been found as inclusions in quartz variety amethyst (R&M 94.4.332).
At Palabora, South Africa, chalcopyrite occurs in a carbonatite (R&M 92.5.436-437).
At Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England, UK, copper mineralised solutions percolated through porous sandstones and deposited barium, cobalt, copper, lead, vanadium and zinc minerals between the sand grains. Anhydrite formed as cement in permeable rocks, then baryte was deposited, followed by pyrite, chalcopyrite, sphalerite and galena. Subsequently a second generation of baryte and iron-rich calcite followed. These minerals crystallised from highly saline, sulphate-rich brines, at a temperature of 50 to 60o C (RES pps 49-50). A specimen of chrysocolla with a pseudomorph of goethite after chalcopyrite has been found (RES p55).
At Croft quarry, Blaby, Leicestershire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with analcime and calcite (RES p189).
At Breedon quarry, Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite (RES p202, 208).
At Cloud Hill Quarry, Breedon on the Hill, Leicestershire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite, dolomite and baryte (RES p205)
At Earl Ferrers' mine, Staunton Harold, Leicestershire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with galena, sphalerite, calcite, dolomite and baryte (RES p222, 223).
At Wotherton mine, Chirbury, Shropshire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite and pyrite (RES p285).
At the Shadwell quarry, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite on limestone (RES p296).
At the Pennerley mine, near Worthen, Shropshire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite, quartz and baryte (RES p290).
At the Ecton mine, Staffordshire, England, UK, chalcopyrite occurs with calcite, baryte, pyrite, galena and malachite (RES p302-307).
At Judkins quarry, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, UK, chalcopyrite has been found as pseudomorphs after chalcocite, with calcite (RES p324)
chalcopyrite to goethite
The first stage of copper supergene mineral formation is the oxidation of a primary copper-containing ore mineral, such as chalcopyrite. This is a complex process, but the reaction can be summarised as:
chalcopyrite + oxygen + water → copper ions + sulphate ions + goethite + sulphuric acid
4CuFeS2(s) + 17O2(g) + 6H2O(l) → 4Cu2+(aq) + 4SO42-(aq) + 4FeO(OH)(s) + 4H2SO4(aq)
The copper and sulphate ions are then free to react with carbonate ions in solution to form a range of supergene copper sulphates and carbonates (JRS 18.12).
chalcopyrite to sulphur
Oxidation of pyrite forms ferrous (divalent) sulphate and sulphuric acid:
pyrite + oxygen + water → ferric sulphate + sulphuric acid
FeS2 + 7O + H2O → FeSO4 + H2SO4
The ferrous (divalent) sulphate readily oxidizes to ferric (trivalent) sulphate and ferric hydroxide:
ferrous sulphate + oxygen + water → ferric sulphate + ferric hydroxide
6FeSO4 + 3O + 3H2O → 2Fe2(SO4)3 + 2Fe(OH)3
Ferric sulfate is a strong oxidizing agent; it oxidises chalcopyrite according to the reaction:
chalcopyrite and ferric sulphate to copper sulphate, ferrous sulphate and sulphur
CuFeS2 + 2Fe2(SO4)3 → CuSO4 + 5FeSO4 + 2S
chalcopyrite and chalcocite to bornite
CuFe3+S2 + 2Cu2S = Cu5FeS4
This reaction occurs in the supergene enrichment zone (JRS 18.14).
Common impurities: Ag,Au,In,Tl,Se,Te
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