Sulphide, copper mineral
Specific gravity: 4.68
Hardness: 1½ to 2
Solubility: Slightly soluble in hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid; moderately soluble in nitric acid
Common impurities: Fe,Se,Ag,Pb
Volcanic sublimates (very rarely)
Covellite is not an abundant mineral; it is usually
found as a secondary copper
mineral in copper deposits, more rarely as a primary
mineral, and only very rarely as a volcanic sublimate. It is found in the enrichment zone of most copper deposits,
usually as a coating, associated with other copper minerals, principally
enargite, and is derived from them by alteration.
At Mount Moliagul, Moliagul, Central Goldfields Shire, Victoria, Australia, covellite sometimes occurs as thin coatings on chalcopyrite (AJM 21.1.42).
At Herrensegen, Schapbach, Schartzwald, Germany, covellite occurs with chalcopyrite (FM 2318).
Covellite may occur as an alteration product of chalcopyrite (AJM 18.2.26).
Supergene covellite is formed by the process
Cu2+ + HS- → CuS + H+
Covellite requires an acid environment for stability.
Oxidation of pyrite forms ferrous (divalent) sulphate and sulphuric acid:
pyrite + oxygen + water → ferrous 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 sulphate is a strong oxidizing agent and attacks both chalcocite and covellite.
chalcocite and ferric sulphate to copper sulphate, ferrous sulphate and covellite
Cu2S + Fe2(SO4)3 → CuSO4 + 2FeSO4 + CuS
covellite and ferric sulphate to ferrous sulphate, copper sulphate and sulphur
CuS + Fe2(SO4)3 → 2FeSO4 + CuSO4 + S
Covellite is further oxidised according to the above reaction to form sulphur (AMU b3-3.7).
sphalerite to covellite: Because covellite is less soluble than sphalerite, supergene covellite may form below the zone of oxidation when dissolved copper ions Cu2+ replace zinc ions Zn2+ from sphalerite
Cu2+ + sphalerite → covellite + Zn2+
Cu2+ + ZnS → CuS + Zn2+
The diagram below is a Pourbaix diagram for Cu-Fe-S-H2O (IJNM 07(02).9.23). It shows the relationship between copper Cu, chalcopyrite CuFeS2, tenorite CuO, covellite CuS, cuprite Cu2O, chalcocite Cu2S, pyrite FeS2 and hematite Fe2O3.
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