The Mineralogy of Slags from a Secondary Copper Refinery


The mineralogy of three slags from a domestic secondary copper refinery were studied by applied mineralogical techniques to determine the: 1) phases present, 2) phase chemistry, 3) phase abundance, 4) associations, 5) crystalline habit, 6) grain size, 7)microtextures, and 8) causes for certain metallurgical problems, such as metal losses to the slags. The slags were produced by skimming the bath prior to melt-down to allow heat from the flame to reach the bath. The first slag is highly viscous and all three slags contain a large amount of copper. The "first slag", which is skimmed prior to treatment of the bath with fluxes, contains metallic copper, cuprite, delafossite, magnetite, Mg-hercynite, common spinel-chromite solid solution, picrochromite-chromite solid solution, common spinel-picrochromite solid soiution, gahnite, cassiterite, silica-rich glass, and corundum. Its abundant solid refractory phases make the slag difficult to skim. The "soda-rich slag", skimmed after the treatment of the bath with sodium carbonate flux, contains cuprite, delafossite, magnetite, cassiterite, Na-Al-silicate, and Na-Al-Ca-silicate. It contains less metallic copper than the first slag and lacks the refractory minerals. The "phosphorus-rich slag", skimmed after treatment of the bath with a copper phosphide flux, contains metallic copper, cuprite, delafossite, berlinite, cassiterite, silica, apatite, Cu-Fe-rich apatite, copper phosphate, Cu-Fe-phosphate, and a Pb-phosphate. In contrast to the above three copper-rich slags, recent charges have produced a silver-copper-rich slag. The "silver-rich slag", skimmed after the treatment of the bath with a copper phosphor ide-borax flux, contains, cassiterite, delafossite, cuprite, a Na-Al-silicate, magnetite, metallic copper, MgO, common spinel-chromite solid solution, and wollastonite. Silver ranging from 0.05 to 2.02% was found by atomic absorption and inductively coupled plasma spectrometry analyses in the metallic copper phase.

Meeting Name

International Symposium on Applied Mineralogy (MAC-ICAM-CAM) and of the Process Mineralogy Symposium (1989: Feb. 27-Mar. 2, Las Vegas, NV)


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Second Department

Materials Science and Engineering

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 1989 The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS) , All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 1989

This document is currently not available here.