Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite is a Copper and Iron Sulphide mineral which does confuse a fair few people.

It can be confused with Gold, or with Iron Pyrite – and many online confuse it with Bornite or Peacock Ore, too.

Chalcopyrite does not naturally have any rainbow colours. It is, however, acid treated to give an iridescent coating and sometimes missold as Peacock Ore.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Chalcopyrite was named in 1725, from the Greek words ‘chalkos’ and ‘pyrites’.

It is primarily used as an ore of Copper and is common in hydrothermal veins and sulfide deposits around the world. It is the most important ore of Copper due to its prevalence and has been for hundreds or thousands of years.

Upon weathering, Chalcopyrite loses its metallic luster and brass colour – it becomes a dull grey colour. When treated with acids, Chalcopyrite can develop iridescence.

It is sometimes confused with Pyrite or Gold. To confuse matters, some Chalcopyrite ores may contain Silver or Gold.

In some cases, acid treated Chalcopyrite is missold as ‘peacock ore’. However, peacock ore is a name used for Bornite.


Locales

Chalcopyrite occurs all around the world, with particularly fine specimens found in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morrocco, Norway, Peru, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A Copper Iron sulfide with the chemical formula CuFeS2
Colours and Variations
Brass yellow.
Streak
Greenish black
Luster
Metallic
Fracture
Irregular to uneven
Transparency
Opaque
Crystal habit
Massive, botryoidal, sometimes tetrahedral.
Mohs hardness
3.5 – 4.0
Specific Gravity
4.1 – 4.3
Easiest testing method
Distinctive streak colouration. Hardness can be used to distinguish Chalcopyrite from Gold and/or Pyrite.
Common Treatments
Sometimes treated with acids to produce an iridescent coating and sold as ‘peacock ore’.

Photos of Chalcopyrite

Chalcopyrite (12244170676)
Chalcopyrite 01 40x (27658570939)
Chalcopyrite from Sulitjalma I

Chalcopyrite-65649
Chalcopyrite 02 10x (24699497767)
Chalcopyrite (Casteel Mine, Iron County, Missouri, USA) 1

Chalcopyrite-Dolomite-48257
Chalcopyrite (French Creek Mine, Chester County, Pennsylvania, USA)
Chalcopyrite-Copper-pas-60a

Hazards and Warnings

Chalcopyrite contains Copper and Sulphur, which can be toxic in high doses – however, handling this material should not be an issue; simply wash your hands afterwards.

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

Hindi:

Portuguese:

  • calcopirita

Bengali:

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

Italian:

  • Calcopirite

Russian:

  • Халькопирит

French:

Japanese:

  • 黄銅鉱

Spanish:

  • Chalcopirita
  • Chalcopyrita
  • Chalkopyrita

German:

  • Chalkopyrit
  • Chalcopyrit

Korean:

Thai:

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 黄铜矿
  • 黃銅礦

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links