Geology & GeoMetallurgy

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Is amorphous silica a common mineral in ore deposits? (2 replies)

5 years ago
Simon-Flotation 5 years ago

During a recent visit to a copper mine in Chile, plant metallurgists mentioned they got colloidal silica in their ore, and it cause some process problems. I guess it is non-crystalline silica or amorphous silica, it has the same chemical structure with quartz which is crystalline form of silica. 

It is very interesting to me. I am just wondering whether this type of silica is common in copper ore deposits?

Thanks for any comments.



5 years ago
jedreiergeo 5 years ago
2 likes by Unterstarm and David

The question here is what type of copper operation did you visit - one using heap/vat leaching or one using flotation? Amorphous silica is generated by the destruction of silicate minerals in copper leaching operations, where it is omnipresent in leach solutions. As for flotation operations, silica may be dissolved in ground waters within primary sulfide type copper deposits or it could possibly be generated by the combination of fine grinding of silicate minerals followed by their partial dissolution. Interesting question but the proper answer awaits a full description of the copper deposit and the mineral processing method.

5 years ago
Robert 5 years ago
4 likes by Bob Mathias, Oberfuhrer and OberstGruppen and 1 more...

There seems ample evidence that amorphous materials are present to surprisingly high extent in orebodies as mined as well as being created by reactions during processing. This includes siliceous, oxide, carbon, etc. materials. This really depends on the orebody and testwork is required to best understand the presence of different species and the potential variability.. Some discussion of this is provided in the following papers.


  1. Smart, R.St.C., et al., Innovations in measurement of mineral structure and surface chemistry in flotation : past, present, and future, SME, 2007


  1. Smart, R.St.C., Surface analytical studies in oxidation and collector adsorption in sulfide mineral flotation, Scanning Micro., vol. 12, 1998, 553-585.


  1. Gerson, A., et al., Integrated Approaches for the Study of Real Mineral Flotation Systems, Minerals, vol. 3, 2013, on-line.


  1. Laufer, E.E., et al., Inhibition of pyrite growth by amorphous carbon, Canadian Mineralogist, vol. 23, 1985, 57-60.

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