This chapter outlined various key reactions in which sulphide minerals are oxidised and dissolved. There is no doubt that the aqueous oxidation and dissolution of sulphide minerals play important roles in the production of environmentally detrimental AMD. The generation of AMD may also be accompanied by release of toxic metals and metalloids to the environment.
From a number of research studies, the dissolution of sulphide minerals is usually proposed to be an electrochemical corrosion process with oxidants, such as Fe3+ or dissolved 02, being reduced at the sulphide mineral surface. Research has also shown that the oxidation of sulphide minerals by aqueous ferric iron generates significantly greater quantities of acid than the oxidation by oxygen. In fact, at low pPIs, the oxidation of some sulphide minerals such as pyrite by ferric iron has been found to be in the range of 10-100 times faster than by oxygen, thus making ferric iron a more effective oxidant than oxygen.
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