The Effect Of Underground Mine Water On Performance Of The Mufulira Flotation Process

Ng?andu, D. E.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2001
The experience of Mufulira concentrator, of the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited, with underground mine drainage water, which is used in milling operations is discussed. It is shown that the underground mine water has a deleterious effect on flotation performance. The adverse effect of the underground water was successfully negated by adding lime into the primary ball mills and increasing the pH of the slurry, from a ?natural? pH of 8 to the flotation pH of 10.5. Traditionally, the pH modifier, quicklime, had been added downstream of the milling. Changing the lime addition point further reduced lime consumption by 50%,?a key issue as lime accounted for over 60% of the Mufulira flotation reagent costs. The nature of the effect of the underground water at Mufulira, particularly the sensitivity of the flotation to the pH at which the milling was conducted, characterized galvanic interaction. A large-scale plant situation is presented in which the desired electro-chemical response in the flotation was achieved, by a deliberate manipulation of the milling environment. The experience provides practical testimony of a more fundamental role for the milling process, other than the mere physical preparation, i.e. size reduction and liberation, of mineral particles prior to flotation.
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