The leaching of oxide copper ore containing malachite, which is the unique copper mineral in the ore, by aqueous ammonia solution has been studied. The effect of leaching time, ammonium hydroxide, and ammonium carbonate concentration, pH, [NH3]/[NH4+] ratio, stirring speed, solid/liquid ratio, particle size, and temperature were investigated. The main important parameters in ammonia leaching of malachite ore are determined as leaching time, ammonia/ammonium concentration ratio, pH, solid/liquid ratio, leaching temperature, and particle size. Optimum leaching conditions from malachite ore by ammonia/ammonium carbonate solution are found as ammonia/ammonium carbonate concentrations: 5 M NH4OH+0.3 M (NH4)(2)CO3; solid/liquid ratio: 1:10 g/mL; leaching times: 120 min; stirring speed: 300 rpm; leaching temperature: 25 degreesC; particle size finer than 450 mum. More than 98% of copper was effectively recovered. During the leaching, copper dissolves as in the form of Cu(NH3)(4)(+2) Complex ion, whereas gangue minerals do not react with ammonia. It was determined that interface transfer and diffusion across the product layer control the leaching process. The activation energy for dissolution was found to be 15 kJ mol(-1). (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.