Copper Ores

Also found in: Wikipedia.

Copper Ores


natural mineral formations containing sufficient copper to make economically feasible the extraction of the metal from these ores. Of the 170 known copper-bearing minerals, 17 are currently used on an industrial scale: native copper, Cu; bornite (peacock ore), Cu5FeS4 chalcopyrite (copper pyrite), CuFeS2; chalcocite (copper glance), Cu2S; covellite, CuS; bournonite, CuPbSbS3; the gray copper ores tetrahedrite, Cu12Sb4S13, and tennantite, Cu12As4S13; enargite, Cu3AsS4; cuprite, Cu2O; tenorite, CuO; malachite, Cu2[CO3](OH)2; azurite, Cu3[CO3](OH)2; chrysocolla, CuSO3 - nH2O; brochantite, Cu4[SO4](OH)6; chalcanthite, CuSO4 · 5H2O; and atacamite, CuCl2 · 3Cu(OH)2.

Several industrial types of copper ores are distinguished according to the mineral composition, the grain size of the minerals and the nature of their mutual interpenetration, and other factors. These ores are classified according to their chemical composition and the presence of copper sulfides, oxides, carbonates, or sulfates into the following natural groups: sulfide ores, oxide ores, and mixed ores. The sulfide ores, which account for 90 percent of the world production of copper, are the most important.

As a rule, copper ores are complex: in addition to nonmetallic minerals (quartz, sericite, barite), they often contain pyrite; pyrrhotite; the sulfides of zinc, lead, nickel, cobalt, molybdenum, antimony, and other metals; and admixtures of trace elements, such as Cd, Se, Te, Ga, Tl, Ge, In, and Re. The aforementioned associated components, including also the S in the sulfides, are of considerable value, sometimes as much as 50 percent of the value of copper extracted from the copper ore.

Based on texture, ores are divided into (1) massive ores, which have a copper content of more than 3 percent and which are suitable for direct smelting (content of other metals is commercially insignificant), and (2) disseminated ores (average copper content, 1-2 percent; low copper content, 0.4-1.0 percent), which are concentrated by means of collective or selective flotation, frequently with the preliminary application of heavy suspensions. The hydrometallurgical method of processing low-quality, especially oxidized, ores, including the application of various extracting reagents, is being increasingly used.

According to the methods of formation and morphology of the ore bodies and the composition, several industrial types of copper ore are distinguished (see Table 1).

In terms of the reserves and extraction of copper, porphyrytic ores (porphyry copper) account for the largest share—more than 60 percent of known reserves and 40 percent of world production (excluding the socialist countries). They are widely distributed in many countries, including the USSR (Kounrad, Almalyk, Kadzharan), Bulgaria, Hungary, Chile (Chuquicamata and elsewhere), the USA (Bingham Canyon, Utah, and other locations), and Canada (Valley Copper, B.C.). Copper-bearing sandstones and shales, which account for about 30 percent of the world’s known reserves and 20 percent of the world production of the metal (excluding the socialist countries), constitute the second largest source of copper. The largest deposits of this type are located in the USSR (Dzhezkazgan, Udokan), Zambia, and Zaïre.

The copper-pyrite ores play an important role, accounting for more than 5 percent of the world’s known copper reserves (excluding the socialist countries). Such deposits are located in the USSR (Urals), Spain (Riotinto), Yugoslavia (Bor), Turkey (Ergani-Maden), and other countries.

Copper-nickel deposits, which account for 10 percent of the known reserves of copper (excluding the socialist countries), are

Table 1. Principal types of copper ores
Commercial type of oreOrigin of depositsMain types of ore bodyA verage ore content in mined copper ores (%)Admixtures
Disseminated (porphyry copper and copper molybdenum)Plutonic hydrothermal (quartz paragenesis)Stockworks and ore shoots0.3-2.0S, Mo, AuAg, Re, trace elements
Copper-bearing sandstones and shalesSedimentary or telethermalBlanket deposits1 .5-6.0Pb, Au, SZn, Co, Re, trace elements
Copper pyritesMetasomatic volcanic and sedimentary-volcanicLenticular and layered deposits1 .5-8.0S, Zn, Au, baritesAg, trace elements
Copper-nickel (sulfide)Liquid magma fractionationBlanket deposits, lenses and cross veins of massive and disseminated ores1-2 and higherNi, Co, S, metals of platinum groupAg, Au, trace elements
PolymetallicPlutonic and volcanic hydrothermal (sulfide paragenesis)Stocks, chimneys, zones, veins of massive and disseminated ores0.5-4.0Pb, Zn, SAu, Ag, Ba, trace elements
Vein-type quartzsulfidePlutonic hydrothermal (quartz paragenesis)Veins, vein systems2-5Pb, Zn, Au, SAg, trace elements
SkarnContact-metasomaticContact-area deposits and crossveins, lenses and pockets2-3 and higherAu, Mo, Co, Fe, SAg, trace elements
Other types (copper- vanadinum, copper-cobalt, copper-bismuth, copper-iron, copper-gold)Endogenic (of various origins)Various forms (most frequently veins, zones, blanket-type deposits)0.5-2V, Co, W, Mo, Sn, Au,Ag, rare and trace elements

primarily processed for the nickel. Such deposits in the USSR are the Noril’sk and the Kola groups of deposits. They also occur in Canada (Sudbury, Ont.) and the USA (Alaska, Stillwater).

The copper-bearing polymetallic (lead-zinc-copper) ores are widely distributed throughout the world. The skarn copper ores, which are genetically related to moderately acidic granitoids, and the vein and other types of deposits are of secondary importance in the overall balance of reserves and mining of copper.

As of 1973, the principal copper producers in the capitalist world are (copper production in terms of concentrates, thousands of tons) the USA (1,490), Zambia (717), Chile (716), Canada (708), and Zaire (428). These countries account for more than 81 percent of the world production (excluding the socialist countries).


Smirnov, V. I. Geologiia poleznykh iskopaemykh, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1969. Instruktsiia po primeneniiu klassifikatsii zapasov k mestorozhdeniiam mednykh rud. Moscow, 1961.
Mineral’nye resursy promyshlenno razvitykh kapitalisticheskikh i razvivaiushchikhsia stran. Moscow, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
Outotec has a comprehensive portfolio of technologies for treating various copper ores.
Chilean copper ores and concentrates are exported to countries such as China, Japan, India, South Korea and Brazil; the top five destinations for Chilean copper ores and concentrates.
Most Polish copper ores are of the stratabound type, located in the areas of Fore-Sudetic Monocline and North Sudetic Basin in Lower Silesia.
Copper ores have been exploited here since the Bronze Age, but it was the discovery of commercial amounts of copper in 1761 which resulted in the landscape we see today.
Before selecting any machinery, you need to find out if you are working with a hard and abrasive substance, like copper ores, or a softer stone, like a limestone-type material.
Byproduct sulphuric acid also is produced and can be applied to heap and stockpile leaching of suitable copper-bearing materials, such as sulphide and oxide copper ores.
The United States announced Wednesday it will provide special duty-free status to 11 Indonesian products, ranging from lumber and copper ores to tuna, ''to support Indonesian democracy and economic reforms.
Danafloat 371, meanwhile, is an aqueous solution of dialkyl dithiophosphate and mercaptobenzothiazole used in the flotation of oxidised lead and copper ores after sulphidisation in a soda ash circuit.
6% y/y) were the major commodities negatively weighing on exports in August 2016, while copper ores (+45.
Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian mining company, declared that it has inked an agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea to start mining an area of seabed believed to be rich in gold and copper ores.
Tintaya currently processes more than 16K-mt/d skarn copper ores at an average grade of 1.