Metastable sulphur oxyanions accumulate as intermediates in the pathway of pyrite oxidation over the pH range 6-9. The rate of oxidation is chemically controlled and is not limited to adsorption. The oxidation mechanism incorporates initial adsorption of oxygen to the pyrite surface followed by a rate-determining step that is reaction-controlled. The postulated sequence of S reactions is that thiosulphate is a precursor to tetrathionate and that sulphite is the precursor to sulphate. Experimental results indicate that production of metastable S oxyanions during nonbiogenic oxidation of iron disulphide minerals is possible. -M.S.