Use of Fungi and Bacteria for the Depression of Mineral and Coal Pyrite

Eisele, T. C. ; Kawatra, S. K.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1994
Pyrite depression is of great interest in sulfide mineral flotation, where pyrite is a common gangue mineral. Since the floatability of pyrite is a function of the pH and a variety of other chemical factors, pH control is a critical part of sulfide flotation circuits. A wide variety of pyrite-depressing chemicals have been studied and used in sulfide- mineral processing, with considerable success. However, there are certain applications where there are still no satisfactory pyrite depressants, and even when suitable depressants are available, there is always a need for less-expensive reagents. Microorganisms, such as the bacteria Thiobacillus ferrooxidans, are known to depress pyrite flotation. However, the dependence of the depression on the type of organism or on suspension pH is still being determined. In this study, the relative effectiveness of various microorganisms, and the effect of pH, has been examined. Screening tests using microflotation showed that every microorganism tested was capable of depressing naturally hydrophobic pyrite at acidic pH. Larger-scale experiments with two of the screened organisms and two different pyrites showed that microorganisms are very effective depressants at acid pH, but are largely ineffective at neutral and alkaline pH where the pyrite surface is not naturally hydrophobic.
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