The present work reports the direct leaching of zinc from a sphalerite concentrate in acid media. Lab-scale and pilot-scale experiments were conducted in atmospheric-pressure and low-pressure reactors, respectively. Leaching of zinc and precipitation of iron was achieved in the same stage using dierent reagents like Fe3+, O2, O3, and Fe2+ (which is continuously oxidized in the leaching solution by H2O2 and O2). The highest percentage of zinc extraction (96%) was obtained in
pilot-scale experiments using H2SO4, Fe2+, and O2. Experimental results were compared with those of other researchers to provide a better understanding of the factors influencing the dissolution of zinc.
In the first instance, it was determined from analysis of variance that leaching time and the use of an oxidant agent (O2 or O3) were the most influential factors during the direct leaching of zinc from the sphalerite concentrate. Kinetic models were also evaluated to determine the rate-limiting step of the sphalerite leaching; it was concluded that the type of the sulfur layer formed in the residue (porous or non-porous) depends on the type of the oxidant used in the leaching media, which determines the dissolution kinetics of zinc.