Chalcocite, digenite and djurleite are the copper rich members of a series of minerals that has compositions such as CuS and Cu2S among others. Digenite is a copper sulfide mineral which is a dark blue opaque mineral that crystallizes with a scalenohedral trigonal-hexagonal structure. It is found incopper sulphide deposits of both supergene and primary occurrences. It is generally intergrown and associated with covellite, chalcocite and bornite among others.
Digenite occurs in midway zone of supergene corrosion of primary ore deposits, in between the lower and upper saprolite ore zones at the interface.There are three polymorphs of digenite including metastable, high and low polymorphs. A complete solid solution exist in-between high berzelianite and digenite. High Digenite is stable only above 73 degree celcius and is isostructural with bornite. The other form i.e. metastable digenite forms on reverse method as that of high digenite;it is formed after cooling from 73 degree celcius. It is isometric in appearance owing to the twinning of fine domains by way of rhombohedral symmetry. Low digenite is same as that of metastable polymorph in symmetry.
Besides digenite being an important ore mineral, chalcocite also has significant material science applications in the CdS couple in solar cells. In 1970’s and 1980’s copper sulfide solar cells used to be considered to be an inexpensive replacement for costly Si cells. Chalcocite has two origins that include supergene and hypogene among which the sooty form of chalcocite is the supergene and the compact chalcocite is the hypogene. Supergene most often seek out cleavage planes and fractures in old suphides, that specifically include bornite, chalcopyrite and galena among others.
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The major applications of chalcocite and digenite include manufacture of copper fungicide, insecticides, growth stimulants for broiler chickens and fattening pigs, correction of copper deficiency in animals, soils among others. Other uses include seed dressing, prevention and control of foot rot in sheep and cattle. Control of scum in farm products, plant nutrient in rice fields, preservative for wooden buildings among others. The industries thatmake use of chalcocite and digenite include chemical, building, adhesives, leather, metal and electrical, rubber, mining and decorative grades industry among others.
The key driving factors include the rising demand for chalcocite and digenite from the electronic and electricalindustry for wide use of copper in power generation and transmission, telecommunication, building wiring and electronic products among others.The other factors that are expected to fuel the demand for chalcocite and digenite include growing use of copper in the building and construction industry for modification of setting of concrete, in the preparation of wood preservatives and as ingredient of plaster for walls to prevent final growth. According to the European Copper Institute, about 65% of global copper production is used for producing energy and conducting electricity, 25% towards building and construction, and remaining 10% in other applications such as transport, coins and sculptures among others.
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The key segments for chalcocite and digenite market include North America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Rest of the World (RoW). Copper deposits are found globally, majorly in Indonesia, Chile, Zambia, China and the U.S. among others. The U.S. is said to be the largest producer of copper sulfides which is self sufficient in production on a global scale. Asia Pacific is expected to fuel demand for chalcocite and digenite in the construction industry in near future.
The key companies profiled include: Ozark Lead Company, Mineralogical Research Company and Grand Pacific Copper Company among others.
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