A model for the leaching of oxide ores is developed and correlated with laboratory tests for percolation leaching of copper oxide ore. Using the model, recovery of metal values and lixiviant concentration of the effluent solution at any time may be evaluated. For the copper oxide ore, a simplified version of the model is examined for the leaching mechanism consisting of (1) a surface flush reaction with the highest rate of lixiviant consumption, (2) penetration of the lixiviant to react with copper minerals and gangue constituents, and (3) slow lixiviant consumption mostly by residual gangue materials. The simplified model is able to explain reasonably the leaching behavior of copper oxide ore by introducing a concept of effective initial size to correct for packing in a bed of fine particles.
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