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FLOTATION - Larger particles are heavier and less easily

- Method of wet concentration in which - Larger particles less influenced by pulp flow
separation is effected by utilizing the difference steam lines and more likely to collide with a
in physico-chemical properties if particles of bubble
various minerals.
Separation made possible by attaching a mineral to a
bubble, letting it float above the bulk phase, leaving the - Hydrophilic particle breaks through the water
other ‘unwanted’ mineral submerged. film on the bubble and attaches
- Hydrophobic particle slides along the bubble to
Types: the bottom, then falls off.
Base on process Contact Time
1. Direct flotation – froth product is the - Time it takes a particle to slide around a bubble
2. Reverse flotation – froth product is the tailings Induction Time

Base on products: - Time required for particle to penetrate the film

and reach the air the bubbles
3. Bulk flotation – concentrate with more than 1
valuable minerals Zones in Froth Flotation
4. Differential flotation – concentrate with only 1
Mechanical Cell
valuable mineral

Keys to Froth Flotation:

Flotation is unique among application in metallurgy, as it

involves all possible interfaces:

- Air-water (Gas-Liquid)
- Mineral-water (Solid-Liquid)
- Air-mineral (Gas-Solid)

Surface Chemistry

Floatation relies on differences in surface properties

among minerals to achieve separation

o A drop of water placed on chalcopyrite spreads

out, wetting the surface (hydrophilic) – 1. Pulp zone
molecules on their surface are able to form Collectors:
hydrogen bonds with water -used to provide water-repellent surface
o A drop of water placed on graphite beads on the on mineral to be floated
surface (hydrophobic) – molecules on their -2 parts:
surface do not form hydrogen bonds with water o Non-polar end – hydrocarbon radical;
o Polar end – compounds that has
Degree of Hydrophobicity sufficient activity in water; hydrophilic
-render the minerals hydrophobic by
o Particle may have both hydrophilic and
covering its surface with a thin film, a
hydrophobic patches on its surface
monomolecular layer
o Overall property of the particle depends on
the balance
Nonpolar hydrocarbon group – oriented
Surface Charge outward forming hydrophobic pseudo
o If voltage is places across electrodes,
particles will move to one electrode or
Polar ion or solidophil group – attached with
the other, depending on whether the
the mineral surface via chemisorption or
particles have positive or negative
ionic bonding
surface charge

Collision and Attachment

Other Reagents

pH Modifiers

-used to control alkalinity

Sulphuric Acid Soda Ash
Hydrofluoric Acid Sodium Hydroxide
Sulphur Dioxide Lime

Mechanisms of Adsoprtion: -modify the mineral surface which cause
a. Ion exchange – ex. Xanthate ions may a particular mineral to float with a
adsorb onto a particle by replacing collector when it would otherwise not
sulphate ions on the surface float
b. Electrochemical reaction – transfer of
electrons from one substance to another Depressants

Pulp Potential -used to lower the floatability of specific

-make naturally hydrophobic mineral
hydrophilic Boiling – a liquid, includes slurry, can
only hold a certain volume of gas before
Dispersants – disperse slimes which
it becomes over-agitated and appears to
often agglomerate and cover surfaces of
larger particles, preventing them from
being recovered
Windows – areas on a bubble that are
2. Froth Zone free of particles and indicate that froth is
not completely loaded
-used to produce froth of adequate Color – reflects the mineral being
durability to permit removal of mineral recovered
carrying bubbles from flotation machine -If froth is completely barren,
will appear clear to white and milky

Detachment and Entrainment


-added since pure water does not froth,

it is necessary to add minute quantities
of reagents to effect frothing
-essential to maintaining large quantities
of small bubbles in the pulp

Grade and Recovery

Objective: to achieve a high concentration as technically

and economically possible

Flotation Stages

1. Rougher
-to provide sufficient retention time to achieve
target recovery
-eliminated large portion of unwanted material
as tailings, greatly reducing volume of slurry
reporting to next stages
-volume of air per unit volume
2. Cleaner
-typical air holdup: 5-25% of cell volume
-to produce target grade
-eliminating entrained particles recovered in the
rougher and exploiting differences in flotation
rates between high grade particles and locked

3. Scavenger
-to remove as much of the remaining valuable
mineral as possible and produce a final tailing
Flotation Flowsheet

Plug flow – if particles did all spend the same

amount of time; constant feed and discharge

Perfect mixing – particles and liquid are

distributed evenly immediately upon entering
the system

Impediments to Flotation

1. Liberation
4. Conditioning -inadequate liberation results in the recovery of
-preparation done one pulp prior to separation gangue to the concentrate a well as the loss of
-leads to lessening of retention time in flotation valuable mineral to the tailings
-requires agitation in the cell 2. Ions in Water
- Presence of unwanted ions can lead to
5. Regrinding unwanted activation or depression of particle
-to liberate middling particles concentrated in 3. Surface oxidation
certain flotation streams and to create clean, -can alter flotation response of particle
fresh surfaces -when excessively oxidized, reaction products
are generally hydrophilic and prevent flotation
6. Classification
- 4. Precipitates on Surfaces
-often hydrophilic
7. Thickening -prevent the collector from reaching the surface
-to control the percent solid ahead of some units of the particle
in the circuit
-to remove excess soluble species such as metal 5. Coagulation
ions in the water -if two particles have opposite charges, there is
tendency for them to come together, or
Residence Time and Distribution -can alter characteristics and flotation response

Residence Time
6. Temperature
- The longer particles spend in flotation cells, the -change in temperature can alter the density and
more likely they are to float viscosity of pulp
- Calculated by dividing the system volume by Solubility of mot species is dependent in
volumetric flow rate through the system temperature as the rates of reactions such as
oxidation and collector adsorption

7. Contamination
-petroleum can act as collectors and cause
unwanted material to float
-wood chips adsorb reagents, foul screens and
plug sampling lines

8. Hydrophobic and Sulphidic Gangue

-difficult to separate from valuable minerals by Example:
-causes many operating difficulties, especially
when dispersed evenly throughout an ore body

9. Mineralogy
- Important factor on determining how easy or
difficult it will be to recover valuable minerals


Reagents and pH Schemes


o Decrease weight to reduce handling and

shipping cost
o Many operations such as furnace smelting
require semi0dry charge or there is danger of
explosion from the steam generated
o Plant water can be recovered and reused as a
conservative step

Types of Sedimentation:
o Sedimentation
o Filtration a. Gravity Sedimentation (thickening)
o Thermal drying -most widely applied dewatering technique
in mineral processing
-relatively cheap and high-capacity process
Sedimentation b. Centrifugal Sedimentation
-regarded as an extension of gravity
- Rapid settling of solid particles in a liquid separation
produces a clarified liquid which can be -settling rates of particles are increased
decanted, leaving a thickened slurry, which may under influence of centrifugal force
require further dewatering filtrations
- Very fine particles settle extremely slowly by Gravity Sedimentation
gravity alone, centrifugal sedimentation may be
- Thickened underflow solids move continually
performed or may be agglomerated
downward to an annular trench at the center
o Coagulation
- Clarified liquid moves upward and radially
o Flocculation
- Arms “rake” the solids

Mechanisms od Agglomeration Thickeners

a. Coagulation
-minerals have inherent surface changes
-Coagulants are electrolytes having
opposite charge to the particle

-altering stability of suspended colloidal

solids to allow them to adhere to one

b. Flocculation
-Flocculants are long-chain organic
-carry multiple monomers with attached
electrolytes that adsorbs to the
oppositely-charged particles
- “Bridging” to occur: electrolyte end
must be strongly adsorbed
-many inter-particle bridges, get linked
together, forming floc (a mass of
particles linked together by flocculants)

-formation of more aggregates than

coagulation by using reagent molecules
acting as “bridges”
Centrifugal sedimentation

- Performed either by hydrocyclones or

- More costly and complex
- have much greater clarifying power and
generally more flexible

o Disc filters
-perforated discs rotate through
a thorough of slurry
-discharge is by pulsating air
Filtration blow/scraper
- process of separating solids from liquid by means
of a porous medium which retains the solid but
allows the liquid to pass

Cotton fabric – most common type of medium

due to low initial cost and availability in wide
variety of weaves

Types of Filter:
a. pressure filters
-consists of alternately arranged plates
and frames pressed by screw or
Thermal Drying
hydraulic piston
-filter cloth: fitted in between plates - Long sloping cylindrical shell
- Filter presses are the most frequently - Hot gases or air is fed either parallel flow or
used type of pressure filter counter-current
-slurry: fed by continuous channel at the
corners of plates
-Clarified liquid: removed the same way
as the other end
-cake: washed when filter is full, prior to
b. vacuum filters
-incorporate filter media supported on
drainage system, beneath which the
pressure is reduced by connection to a
o Rotary Drum Filters
-filter drum rotates horizontally
while partially submerged in
-suction is delivered from the
inside of drum, discharged is at
the end of rotation

Rotary thermal dryers are often used

TAILINGS DISPOSAL c. Outer lope can be remediated during operation
as the crest moves inwards
1. Upstream Method
- Small carter dam is placed at extreme a. There is limiting height to which this type of dam
downstream point and the dam wall is can be built
progressively raised on the upstream side b. Not appropriate in areas with potential high
seismic activity

2. Downstream Method
- As dam wall is raised, the centerline shifts
downstream and the dam remains founded on
coarse tailings

- Center line of the dam move upstream into the

- Tailings discharged by spigotting off the top of
the started dyke, when pond is nearly filled, the
dyke is raised and the cycle repeated

a. Starter dam should be capable of passing
a. Well-suited to conditions where large volumes
seepage water and downstream portion should
of water may be stored along tailings solids
be resistant to piping
b. Safer dams in terms of static and seismic loading
b. Deposition develops dike and wide beach area
composed of coarse material. The beach Disadvantage:
becomes the foundation of the next dike
a. Large amount of and required to raise the dam
c. Dikes can be built with borrow fill, or beach sand
tailings can be excavated from the beach and
b. Cover relatively large area
placed by either dragline or bulldozer

Tailings beach must form a competent foundation

for the support of the next dike 3. Centre-line Method
- Variation used to construct downstream dam
- Should contain no less than 40-60% sand
and crest remains in the same horizontal
Factors: position as the dam wall is raised

a. Phreatic surface control

b. Water storage capacity
c. Seismic liquefaction susceptibility
d. Rate of dam rising


a. Low cost and simplicity

b. Process is simple and ongoing

a. Requiting smaller volumes of sand-fill to raise

the crest at any given height
b. Dam can be raised more quickly, and less trouble
keeping it ahead of the tailings pond during early
stages of construction


a. No amenable to permanent storage of large

volumes of water