Part 2: Wet Fine Particle Concentration Section 3: Flotation

Aplan, Frank A. ; Arnold, Barbara J.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 36
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1991
INTRODUCTION Coal flotation is a fine cleaning process usually present in all but the older preparation plants. It is typically used to clean either the -28 mesh (-500 pm) or - 100 mesh (- 150 pm) raw coal fines, and it is the only commonly used preparation method that can effectively recover coal particles finer than, say, -200 mesh (74 pm). To place coal flotation into its proper context, it should be noted that the bulk of the raw coal sent to preparation plants is treated by gravity concentration. On a worldwide basis, from 0 to 40% of the raw feed to a preparation plant is treated by flotation, while in the US only about 10% of the raw coal feed is floated. Roughly, 50% of US preparation plants use flotation to process at least a portion of the raw coal feed, although most of the newer plants incorporate flotation into their flowsheet. Historically, the process has only been used to treat the raw coal fines naturally occurring after mining and a minimal amount of crushing at the preparation plant. This is in sharp contrast to ore flotation where, typically, the entire tonnage is first ground and then floated. As a consequence, of the approximately 500 Mt of raw coal treated by preparation in the US yearly, it is estimated that only about 40 Mt are sent to the flotation circuits (producing -30 Mt of clean product).'O1 This small tonnage compares with about 400 Mt of ores treated annually in the US by flotation. By analogy to ore flotation, where it is an effective, large tonnage, low cost, easy to operate process, its potential in coal preparation should be great. Reasons why it has not achieved a greater potential in coal preparation have been attributed by Aplan 102 to: 1. Indifferent results in removing sulfur and ash. 2. Difficulty in floating low rank and oxidized coals. 3. Inability to make clean separations with the finer sizes. 4.Inability to clean slurries with a high percentage of clay. 5. Problems with water chemistry. 6. Competition with effective, gravity coarse-cleaning methods. 7. Low value of coal historically. 8. Dewatering problems. 9. Transportation and storage problems with coal fines. 10. Marketing problems with coal fines. 11. Inadequate attention to the process in the plant. 12. Inefficient use of capital and operating monies. Inadequate attention to procedures, machines, and processes.
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