Environmental Problems of Flotation Reagents in Mineral Processing Plant Tailings Water
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1976
INTRODUCTION The composition of water used in the flotation process has always been of primary interest to the flotation metallurgist. It is by alteration of the chemistry of the water introduced to the process that flotation separation is effected. In only a few cases has it been necessary to treat available water prior to use in the process. In the past, flotation tailings were treated for the removal of solids via the tailings dam and water decanted from the dam was either recirculated to the process or discharged to the surface water system. The choice of recirculation or discharge was based upon water availability, effect of recycle water on the process, and economic considerations. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 have charged the United States Environmental Protection Agency with establishing effluent limitations from point sources of discharge into the navigable water of the United States. A detailed study, sponsored by EPA, of the water of ore processing plants took place in 1974 and 1975 and guidelines for these plants will presumably have been published by the time this paper has been presented(1). The action of many of the individual states preceded the EPA in this attempt to regulate the quality of the water discharged from industrial point sources. Even with recycle of tailings water, some water is discharged from tailings dams into the substrata and at least one state is currently preparing guidelines for the quality of water discharged into the substrata.