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What metal can be obtained from chalcopyrite?

Chalcopyrite is a mineral that has been mined since ancient times. It is one of the oldest copper formations on the planet. Externally, it is a yellow stone with a green or brass tint. Thanks to its cool tones, it has a beautiful metallic sheen. The structure of the stone is soft, it consists of copper impurities of gold, silver, copper, sulfur and iron.

A bit of history

Chalcopyrite deposits can be found on almost all continents. The stone is almost never found in its pure form – mainly in composition with quartz and chrysolite minerals. Depending on the deposit, the stone will have different shades. For example, in the Urals it is green, and in France it is golden. In Japan, the stone is mined in copper pyramids, which form crystals. Huge deposits of the gem are found in South America, where intergrowths with sphalerite are formed. Where did the name “fool’s gold” come from? The fact is that the color and structure of the chalcopyrite stone is very similar to gold. That is why people have been hunting for him for a long time. It is also called “Apache gold” and “copper pyrite”. And the term “chalcopyrite” itself was assigned to this mineral by the German chemist I. F. Henkel.

The magical properties of the stone

Various peoples use this stone as a source of magical power. For example, in Europe, women meditate with chalcopyrite to find family and female happiness. Regular communication with this gem helps to gain youth, beauty and longevity. In India, yogis also use the stone for meditation: it is believed that it transforms bad energy into good energy. Some magicians use the mineral to protect their homes from thieves, natural disasters and any other home invasion. To do this, a small chalcopyrite is placed on each window sill. Traders are convinced that the use of the mineral chalcopyrite will definitely help to profitably sell any product. They take it with them to all negotiations with suppliers, as it attracts good luck and prosperity for its owner. In addition, it enhances a person’s intuition, which allows him to easily distinguish between good and bad people.

The healing power of chalcopyrite

Healers also did not ignore this wonderful stone. Even in Ancient Rus’, women placed it next to them during childbirth. It was believed that it helps both mother and child. Today, lithotherapists claim that chalcopyrite has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, improves blood composition, and increases immunity. To treat affected areas of the skin, the stone is ground and added to the ointment. Chalcopyrite successfully fights dermatitis and eczema. Those suffering from insomnia are recommended to use a mixture of chalcopyrite mineral, powdered sugar and chalk internally. With regular use, the nervous system calms, which promotes healthy, sound sleep and increased appetite. As with any treatment, there are side effects, so you should consult a specialist before use. Excessive consumption of the mineral can lead to a high concentration of bile in the body and allergies. If we talk about the stone from an astrological point of view, then chalcopyrite is suitable for all zodiac signs. He is protected by the sun, so he cannot harm anyone. The mineral helps attract monetary energy, helping not only to earn, but also to accumulate. People who do not get along well with others are advised to wear jewelry with chalcopyrite regularly.

Practical value of the stone

Jewelers rarely make jewelry with this mineral. No matter what admixture the mineral is used with, it is always extraordinarily beautiful and looks chic in any piece of jewelry. However, it is very fragile, which makes it difficult to process. In addition, over time, the stone becomes dull due to the oxidation of copper. It is used to make necklaces, pendants and cabochons. And in industries such as mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, chalcopyrite is extremely useful. It is the main source of copper, which in turn is used to produce alloys. Refrigerators, pipes, coils, and laboratory supplies are made from the resulting alloys. It is not difficult to distinguish a fake from the original. You need to scratch a line on the stone and look at its color. In a real stone, it will take on a greenish-black hue. If the line is yellow, then it is gold. All other shades indicate a fake stone. In addition, the gem is characterized by dullness of color: even in the light, a product with chalcopyrite will not have rich and bright colors. Publication Date: 21.10.22
Updated date: 02.06.23
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Chalcopyrite is a mineral with high practical and decorative properties. The mineral chalcopyrite, often called copper pyrite, is a copper sulfide with the formula CuFeS2. As a rule, it contains tellurium, selenium, gold, indium, silver and some other chemical elements in insignificant quantities.

1. Chalcopyrite stone – formula, properties

The crystal structure of copper pyrite is described by a relatively simple tetragonal lattice, which is a derivative of a face-centered cubic lattice. One cell of this mineral (elementary) is essentially a double cell of sphalerite, characterized by the fact that it contains four metal ions surrounding a sulfur ion. And in the corners of the tetrahedron there are iron and copper ions (they are placed according to a clearly defined pattern in each individual layer). Iron ions in the tetragonal prism of pyrite are located in the 1st and 5th cation layers (that is, on the lower and upper faces of the lattice).
In the very center of the lattice there are copper ions, in the middle part there are again iron ions. In this case, two copper ions located in the 4th and 2nd layers intersect with a similar number of iron ions. Without exception, all groupings of elements in a tetrahedron have the same orientation in space. The formula of the described mineral is CuFeS2 (iron content – 30,54%, copper – 34,57%, sulfur – 34,9%). Pyrite crystals in nature can be seen exclusively in drusy voids in the form of tetrahedrons and pseudoectahedrons. Very rarely crystals have a hedral appearance. The edges of the negative tetrahedron usually have a smooth structure, while the main ones are covered with strokes and have a matte tint. Physical characteristics of copper pyrite:

  • absence of Chelsea filter, pleochroism, dispersion, luminescence;
  • hardness – from 3,5 to 4 units on the Mohs scale;
  • clear cleavage;
  • greenish-black character of double refraction of rays;
  • density – from 4,1 to 4,3 g/cm3;
  • uneven conchoidal fracture;
  • tetragonal system.

The mineral is considered quite fragile; most often it is colored yellow-brass with variegated or yellow discoloration. Pyrite is an opaque material with a shiny metallic streak, the main color of which is black, (sometimes there may be a hint of green).

The high decorative properties of the mineral are due to the presence of an oxide iridescent film (tarnish) on its surface. In the light, it literally captivates a person’s gaze, which determines the active use of copper pyrite by jewelers who use it to create original jewelry.

2. Deposits of chalcopyrite in nature, the origin of the mineral

Pyrite is formed under different conditions. It can often be found as a companion of pyrrhotite in:

  • rocks of (main) volcanic eruptions in combination with magnetite, pentlandite, cubanite;
  • nickel sulfide ores.

Very often, the mineral is “hidden” in contact and ordinary metasomatic, as well as vein deposits. As a rule, it is associated with fahl ores, the previously mentioned pyrrhotite, galena, pyrite, sphalerite and some other minerals, in particular, with non-metallic materials:

  • silicates;
  • calcite;
  • quartz;
  • barite.

Sometimes pyrite can form during the influx of solutions containing copper and the breakdown of organic natural residues (the process of hydrogen sulfide fermentation) in sedimentary rocks. It is also important that the mineral we are interested in is available in small volumes in almost all hydrothermal locations of various ores from which sulfides are extracted. And in rare cases, in such deposits it can be located in more serious quantities.

During chemical destruction caused by weathering, the mineral breaks down into iron and copper sulfates, which form:

  • azurite and malachite – when reacting with carbonates or CO2 (in the presence of water and oxygen);
  • phosphates, arsenates, vanadates – when reacting with different types of acids;
  • chrysocolla – when interacting with silicon oxide.

If the deposit is located in hot climate zones, copper sulfates remain in the oxidized areas of the deposits, which easily dissolve in small amounts of water that seep and reach the surface. In such cases, the replacement of the described mineral with chalcocite, bornite, and covellite is noted.

On the territory of the Russian Federation, copper pyrite is found in almost all of the designated types of deposits. In the Urals there are rich deposits of it in metamorphosed sedimentary rocks dating back to the Paleozoic period. In these ores, the main element is pyrite (from 60 to 80 percent). And it is with this that pyrite is associated (at the paragenetic level). Such deposits in Russia include the following large ore zones:

  • Sibayskoe;
  • Karpushinskoe;
  • Levikhinskoe.

But the majority of pyrite deposits in Khakassia (Minusinsk) and in the northern part of the Ural Mountains are classified as contact-metasomatic. In them, the mineral we need is associated with pyrrhotite and pyrite, and in some areas with magnetite.

The diagnostic signs of copper pyrite are simple. It is not difficult to recognize it by the indicators described at the beginning of the article – characteristic color, presence of tarnish, and so on. Sometimes chalcopyrite is confused with millerite, which contains nickel and has a more pronounced color.

Large deposits of pyrite are located in Kurzhunkul, Dalnegorsk, Dzhezkazgan, as well as in the Primorsky Territory, Yakutia, Bulgaria, the Republic of South Africa, the Congo, the USA (in Utah). Copper ore is enriched using foam flotation technology (bornite is processed in the same way).

3. Practical significance of CuFeS2 and chalcopyrite-containing ores

Such copper ores represent the main source of copper, which is contained in amounts of about 2–2,5 percent. The high thermal conductivity of copper and its other special characteristics determine the high demand for this chemical element, which is used in the production of bronze, brass, tombac, products for housing construction, chemical, shipbuilding, mechanical engineering, and electrical enterprises.

The mineral in question is used to make jewelry as a unique gem that has no analogues. Working with it requires special skill from jewelers, as it is fragile. Most often, opaque jewelry cabochons are made from the mineral.

CuFeS2 is also in demand for the production of elements for decorating offices or living spaces. It looks great, it’s just important not to forget to polish it regularly in order to maintain the unrealistically beautiful shine of the material for a long time.

People involved in astrological and esoteric activities attribute multiple surreal properties to the mineral. It is generally accepted that it ensures good luck for businessmen and advertising market specialists. And employees of marriage agencies recommend wearing amulets and charms made from it to those who want to make their family life as harmonious as possible. In addition, cabochons in earrings, cufflinks, key chains, rings and other jewelry protect their owners from stupid actions that can ruin a person’s life.

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