Sulfides

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Metal-sulfide matrix where  a=sulfur  b=metal
Metal-sulfide matrix where
a=sulfur
b=metal
Metal-sulfide matrix matrix with elemental inclusions where  c=elemental metal for example gold
Metal-sulfide matrix matrix with elemental inclusions where
c=elemental metal for example gold

A chemical compound containing sulfur and one other element or sulfur and a radical. Sulfides may be salts or esters of hydrogen sulfide, or may be formed directly by heating a metal with sulfur. Metal bearing materials like ores of copper, lead and zinc usually contain the metal sulfide.

While the leaching of metals and oxide minerals has been practised for a relatively long time, the leaching of sulfide minerals has only begun in relatively recent times. Most sulfidic minerals are treated with pyrometallurgical methods or through pyrometallurgical pre-treatment, for example by means of roasting into oxides or sulfates followed by hydrometallurgical metal extraction. Direct leaching of sulfide minerals, however, does occur on an industrial scale and there is great interest in expanding this technique.

Sulfides can be leached by many methods. Bioleaching is almost exclusively done on sulfides.

Sulfide minerals of interest with respect to hydrometallurgy
Antimony Sb2S3 Stibnite
Arsenic As2S3 Orpiment
FeAsS Arsenopyrite
Cobalt Co3S4 Linnaeite
Copper Cu2S Chalcocite
CuS Covellite
Cu5FeS4 Bornite
CuFeS2 Chalcopyrite
Iron FeS2 Pyrite
FeS Pyrrhotite
Lead PbS Galena
Zinc ZnS Sphalerite
Mercury HgS Cinnabar
Molybdenum MoS2 Molybdenite
Nickel (Fe, Ni)9S8 Pentlandite
Silver Ag2S Acanthite
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