Chalcocite, copper sulfide (Cu2S), is an important copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

An ore is a type of rock that contains minerals with important elements including metals. The ores are extracted through mining; these are then refined to extract the valuable element....

 mineral. It is opaque, being colored dark-gray to black with a metallic luster
Lustre (mineralogy)
Lustre is a description of the way light interacts with the surface of a crystal, rock, or mineral. The word lustre traces its origins back to the Latin word lux, meaning "light", and generally implies radiance, gloss, or brilliance....

. It has a hardness of 2½ - 3. It is a sulfide
A sulfide is an anion of sulfur in its lowest oxidation state of 2-. Sulfide is also a slightly archaic term for thioethers, a common type of organosulfur compound that are well known for their bad odors.- Properties :...

 with an orthorhombic crystal system.

The term chalcocite comes from the alteration of the obsolete name chalcosine, from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 khalkos, meaning copper. It is also known as redruthite, vitreous copper and copper-glance.


Chalcocite is sometimes found as a primary vein
In the circulatory system, veins are blood vessels that carry blood towards the heart. Most veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart; exceptions are the pulmonary and umbilical veins, both of which carry oxygenated blood to the heart...

 mineral in hydrothermal veins. However, most chalcocite occurs in the supergene
Supergene (geology)
In ore deposit geology, supergene processes or enrichment occur relatively near the surface. Supergene processes include the predominance of meteoric water circulation with concomitant oxidation and chemical weathering. The descending meteoric waters oxidize the primary sulfide ore minerals and...

 enriched environment below the oxidation zone of copper deposits as a result of the leaching of copper from the oxidized minerals. It is also often found in sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock
Sedimentary rock are types of rock that are formed by the deposition of material at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Sedimentation is the collective name for processes that cause mineral and/or organic particles to settle and accumulate or minerals to precipitate from a solution....


It has been mined for centuries and is one of the most profitable copper ores. The reasons for this is its high copper content (67% atomic ratio and nearly 80% by weight) and the ease at which copper can be separated from sulfur
Sulfur or sulphur is the chemical element with atomic number 16. In the periodic table it is represented by the symbol S. It is an abundant, multivalent non-metal. Under normal conditions, sulfur atoms form cyclic octatomic molecules with chemical formula S8. Elemental sulfur is a bright yellow...

Since chalcocite is a secondary mineral that forms from the alteration of other minerals, it has been known to form pseudomorph
In mineralogy, a pseudomorph is a mineral or mineral compound that appears in an atypical form , resulting from a substitution process in which the appearance and dimensions remain constant, but the original mineral is replaced by another...

s of many different minerals. A pseudomorph is a mineral that has replaced another mineral atom by atom, but it leaves the original mineral's crystal shape intact. Chalcocite has been known to form pseudomorphs of the minerals bornite
Bornite is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system .-Appearance:Bornite has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces that tarnishes to various iridescent shades of blue to purple in places...

, covellite
Covellite is a rare copper sulfide mineral with the formula CuS. This indigo blue mineral is ubiquitous in copper ores, it is found in limited abundance and is not an important ore of copper itself, although it is well known to mineral collectors.The mineral is associated with chalcocite in zones...

, chalcopyrite
Chalcopyrite is a copper iron sulfide mineral that crystallizes in the tetragonal system. It has the chemical composition CuFeS2. It has a brassy to golden yellow color and a hardness of 3.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale. Its streak is diagnostic as green tinged black.On exposure to air, chalcopyrite...

, pyrite
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, is an iron sulfide with the formula FeS2. This mineral's metallic luster and pale-to-normal, brass-yellow hue have earned it the nickname fool's gold because of its resemblance to gold...

, enargite
Enargite is a copper arsenic sulfosalt mineral with formula: Cu3AsS4. It takes its name from the Greek word enarge, "distinct." Enargite is a steel gray, blackish gray, to violet black mineral with metallic luster. It forms slender orthorhombic prisms as well as massive aggregates...

, millerite, galena
Galena is the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. It is the most important lead ore mineral.Galena is one of the most abundant and widely distributed sulfide minerals. It crystallizes in the cubic crystal system often showing octahedral forms...

 and sphalerite
Sphalerite is a mineral that is the chief ore of zinc. It consists largely of zinc sulfide in crystalline form but almost always contains variable iron. When iron content is high it is an opaque black variety, marmatite. It is usually found in association with galena, pyrite, and other sulfides...

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