ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Extraction of copper from oxides

  • In addition to sulphides
  • Copper ore can also be in the form of oxides
  • For example Cuprite
  • Unlike withe sulphides the oxygen in copper oxides cannot be driven off by roasting
  • Copper can be yielded by using the reduction process
  • Sodium carbonate is used in the process
  • It acts a flux
  • It lowers the melting point of copper oxide and forms a slag with the impurities
  • The carbon in the sodium carbonate acts as a reducing agent
  • It removes the oxygen from the copper oxide ore
  • The word equation for the reaction can be written as:
  • \text{copper oxide+carbon}\rightarrow\text{copper+carbon dioxide}
  • The electrolytic method can also be used to extract copper from its oxide ore

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