Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite

Overview
Chalcopyrite is a copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 sulfide mineral
Sulfide mineral
The sulfide minerals are a class of minerals containing sulfide as the major anion. Some sulfide minerals are economically important as metal ores. The sulfide class also includes the selenides, the tellurides, the arsenides, the antimonides, the bismuthinides, the sulfarsenides and the sulfosalts...

 that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical composition CuFeS2. It has a brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

y to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.

On exposure to air, chalcopyrite oxidises to a variety of oxides, hydroxides and sulfates. Associated copper minerals include the sulfides bornite
Bornite
Bornite is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system .-Appearance:Bornite has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces that tarnishes to various iridescent shades of blue to purple in places...

 (Cu5FeS4), chalcocite
Chalcocite
Chalcocite, copper sulfide , is an important copper ore mineral. It is opaque, being colored dark-gray to black with a metallic luster. It has a hardness of 2½ - 3. It is a sulfide with an orthorhombic crystal system....

 (Cu2S), covellite
Covellite
Covellite is a rare copper sulfide mineral with the formula CuS. This indigo blue mineral is ubiquitous in copper ores, it is found in limited abundance and is not an important ore of copper itself, although it is well known to mineral collectors.The mineral is associated with chalcocite in zones...

 (CuS), digenite
Digenite
Digenite is a copper sulfide mineral with formula: Cu9S5. Digenite is a black to dark blue opaque mineral that crystallizes with a trigonal - hexagonal scalenohedral structure. In habit it is usually massive, but does often show pseudo-cubic forms. It has poor to indistinct cleavage and a brittle...

 (Cu9S5); carbonates such as malachite
Malachite
Malachite is a copper carbonate mineral, with the formula Cu2CO32. This green-colored mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms...

 and azurite
Azurite
Azurite is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits. It is also known as Chessylite after the type locality at Chessy-les-Mines near Lyon, France...

, and rarely oxides such as cuprite
Cuprite
Cuprite is an oxide mineral composed of copper oxide Cu2O, and is a minor ore of copper.Its dark crystals with red internal reflections are in the isometric system hexoctahedral class, appearing as cubic, octahedral, or dodecahedral forms, or in combinations. Penetration twins frequently occur...

 (Cu2O).
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Encyclopedia
Chalcopyrite is a copper
Copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

 iron
Iron
Iron is a chemical element with the symbol Fe and atomic number 26. It is a metal in the first transition series. It is the most common element forming the planet Earth as a whole, forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust...

 sulfide mineral
Sulfide mineral
The sulfide minerals are a class of minerals containing sulfide as the major anion. Some sulfide minerals are economically important as metal ores. The sulfide class also includes the selenides, the tellurides, the arsenides, the antimonides, the bismuthinides, the sulfarsenides and the sulfosalts...

 that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical composition CuFeS2. It has a brass
Brass
Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; the proportions of zinc and copper can be varied to create a range of brasses with varying properties.In comparison, bronze is principally an alloy of copper and tin...

y to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.

On exposure to air, chalcopyrite oxidises to a variety of oxides, hydroxides and sulfates. Associated copper minerals include the sulfides bornite
Bornite
Bornite is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system .-Appearance:Bornite has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces that tarnishes to various iridescent shades of blue to purple in places...

 (Cu5FeS4), chalcocite
Chalcocite
Chalcocite, copper sulfide , is an important copper ore mineral. It is opaque, being colored dark-gray to black with a metallic luster. It has a hardness of 2½ - 3. It is a sulfide with an orthorhombic crystal system....

 (Cu2S), covellite
Covellite
Covellite is a rare copper sulfide mineral with the formula CuS. This indigo blue mineral is ubiquitous in copper ores, it is found in limited abundance and is not an important ore of copper itself, although it is well known to mineral collectors.The mineral is associated with chalcocite in zones...

 (CuS), digenite
Digenite
Digenite is a copper sulfide mineral with formula: Cu9S5. Digenite is a black to dark blue opaque mineral that crystallizes with a trigonal - hexagonal scalenohedral structure. In habit it is usually massive, but does often show pseudo-cubic forms. It has poor to indistinct cleavage and a brittle...

 (Cu9S5); carbonates such as malachite
Malachite
Malachite is a copper carbonate mineral, with the formula Cu2CO32. This green-colored mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms...

 and azurite
Azurite
Azurite is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits. It is also known as Chessylite after the type locality at Chessy-les-Mines near Lyon, France...

, and rarely oxides such as cuprite
Cuprite
Cuprite is an oxide mineral composed of copper oxide Cu2O, and is a minor ore of copper.Its dark crystals with red internal reflections are in the isometric system hexoctahedral class, appearing as cubic, octahedral, or dodecahedral forms, or in combinations. Penetration twins frequently occur...

 (Cu2O). Chalcopyrite is rarely found in association with native copper
Native copper
Copper, as native copper, is one of the few metallic elements to occur in uncombined form as a natural mineral, although most commonly occurs in oxidized states and mixed with other elements...

.

Identification



Chalcopyrite is often confused with pyrite
Pyrite
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

, although the latter has a cubic and not a tetragonal crystal system. Further, chalcopyrite is often massive, rarely crystalline, and less brittle. Chalcopyrite is also a darker yellow in color, with a greenish tinge and diagnostic greasy luster.

Due to its color and high copper content, chalcopyrite has often been referred to as "yellow copper" or "fool's gold".

Chemistry



Natural chalcopyrite has no solid solution series with any other sulfide minerals. There is limited substitution of Zn with Cu despite chalcopyrite having the same crystal structure as sphalerite
Sphalerite
Sphalerite is a mineral that is the chief ore of zinc. It consists largely of zinc sulfide in crystalline form but almost always contains variable iron. When iron content is high it is an opaque black variety, marmatite. It is usually found in association with galena, pyrite, and other sulfides...

.

However, it is often contaminated by a variety of other trace elements such as Co, Ni, Mn, Zn and Sn substituting for Cu and Fe. Se, Fe and As substitute for sulfur, and trace amounts of Ag, Au, Pt, Pd, Pb, V, Cr, In, Al and Sb are reported.

It is likely many of these elements are present in finely intergrown minerals within the chalcopyrite crystal, for instance lamellae of arsenopyrite
Arsenopyrite
Arsenopyrite is an iron arsenic sulfide . It is a hard metallic, opaque, steel grey to silver white mineral with a relatively high specific gravity of 6.1. When dissolved in nitric acid, it releases elemental sulfur. When arsenopyrite is heated, it becomes magnetic and gives off toxic fumes...

 representing As, molybdenite
Molybdenite
Molybdenite is a mineral of molybdenum disulfide, MoS2. Similar in appearance and feel to graphite, molybdenite has a lubricating effect that is a consequence of its layered structure. The atomic structure consists of a sheet of molybdenum atoms sandwiched between sheets of sulfur atoms...

 representing Mo, etc.

Paragenesis


Chalcopyrite is present with many ore bearing environments via a variety of ore forming
Ore genesis
The various theories of ore genesis explain how the various types of mineral deposits form within the Earth's crust. Ore genesis theories are very dependent on the mineral or commodity....

 processes.

Chalcopyrite is present in volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposit
Volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposit
Volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposits are a type of metal sulfide ore deposit, mainly Cu-Zn-Pb which are associated with and created by volcanic-associated hydrothermal events in submarine environments....

s and sedimentary exhalative deposits
Sedimentary exhalative deposits
Sedimentary exhalative deposits are ore deposits which are interpreted to have been formed by release of ore-bearing hydrothermal fluids into a water reservoir , resulting in the precipitation of stratiform ore....

, formed by deposition of copper during hydrothermal circulation
Hydrothermal circulation
Hydrothermal circulation in its most general sense is the circulation of hot water; 'hydros' in the Greek meaning water and 'thermos' meaning heat. Hydrothermal circulation occurs most often in the vicinity of sources of heat within the Earth's crust...

. Chalcopyrite is concentrated in this environment via fluid transport.

Porphyry copper ore deposits are formed by concentration of copper within a granite
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 stock during the ascent and crystallisation of a magma. Chalcopyrite in this environment is produced by concentration within a magma system.

Chalcopyrite is an accessory mineral in Kambalda type komatiitic nickel ore deposits
Kambalda type komatiitic nickel ore deposits
Kambalda type nickel ore deposits are a class of magmatic nickel-copper ore deposit in which the physical processes of komatiite volcanology serve to enrich, concentrate and deposit nickel-bearing sulfide within the lava flow environment of an erupting komatiite volcano.-Classification:The...

, formed from an immiscible sulfide liquid in sulfur-saturated ultramafic lavas. In this environment chalcopyrite is formed by a sulfide liquid stripping copper from an immiscible silicate liquid.

Occurrence



Chalcopyrite is the most important copper ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

. Chalcopyrite ore occurs in a variety of ore
Ore
An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 types, from huge masses as at Timmins, Ontario
Timmins, Ontario
Timmins is a city in northeastern Ontario, Canada on the Mattagami River. At the time of the Canada 2006 Census, Timmins' population was 42,997...

, to irregular vein
Vein (geology)
In geology, a vein is a distinct sheetlike body of crystallized minerals within a rock. Veins form when mineral constituents carried by an aqueous solution within the rock mass are deposited through precipitation...

s and dissemination
Dissemination
To disseminate , in terms of the field of communication, means to broadcast a message to the public without direct feedback from the audience. Dissemination takes on the theory of the traditional view of communication, which involves a sender and receiver...

s associated with granitic
Granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

 to dioritic
Diorite
Diorite is a grey to dark grey intermediate intrusive igneous rock composed principally of plagioclase feldspar , biotite, hornblende, and/or pyroxene. It may contain small amounts of quartz, microcline and olivine. Zircon, apatite, sphene, magnetite, ilmenite and sulfides occur as accessory...

 intrusives as in the porphyry copper deposits of Broken Hill, the American cordillera
American cordillera
The American Cordillera is a cordillera that consists of an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. From north to south, this sequence of overlapping and parallel ranges begins with the...

 and the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

. The largest deposit of nearly pure chalcopyrite ever discovered in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 was at the southern end of the Temagami greenstone belt
Temagami greenstone belt
The Temagami greenstone belt, also known as the Temagami volcanic belt and the Temagami metavolcanic belt, is a small 2.7 billion year old greenstone belt in the Temagami region of Northeastern Ontario, Canada...

 where Copperfields Mine extracted the high-grade copper.

Chalcopyrite is present in the supergiant Olympic Dam
Olympic Dam, South Australia
Olympic Dam is a mining centre in South Australia located some 550 km NNW of Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. It is the site of an extremely large iron oxide copper gold deposit producing copper, uranium, gold and silver. The site hosts an underground mine as well as an...

 Cu-Au-U deposit in South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

.

Chalcopyrite may also be found in coal seams associated with pyrite nodules, and as disseminations in carbonate sedimentary rocks.

Structure


Crystallographically the structure of chalcopyrite is closely related to that of zinc blende ZnS (sphalerite
Sphalerite
Sphalerite is a mineral that is the chief ore of zinc. It consists largely of zinc sulfide in crystalline form but almost always contains variable iron. When iron content is high it is an opaque black variety, marmatite. It is usually found in association with galena, pyrite, and other sulfides...

). The unit cell is twice as large, reflecting an alternation of Cu+ and Fe3+ ions replacing Zn2+ ions in adjacent cells. In contrast to the pyrite
Pyrite
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

 structure chalcopyrite has single S2- sulfide anions rather than disulfide pairs. Another difference is that the iron cation is not diamagnetic low spin Fe(II) as in pyrite.

See also