The Technology of Flotation

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 21
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1984
There are two mechanisms in the flo- tation process by which particles are transported from the pulp to the con- centrate: bubble-mineral aggregation and entrainment. It is the chemical processes which occur in the pulp which are critical to the success of flotation since they control the floatability of different min- erals and the selectivity which can be obtained. However, these chemical pro- cesses are so complex that metallurgists are still limited in their ability to predict the floatability of particles in industrial circuits by consideration of the minerals present and the chemical environment. The alternative approach to understand- ing flotation is to examine the behaviour of minerals in industrial flotation pro- cesses, to recognise similarities and differences, and to define the "laws" which appear to apply. Using this ap- proach it has been found that minerals float at a rate which is proportional to their concentration in the pulp, and that the rate of flotation of different min- erals is influenced by variables which' affect the pulp or the froth phase. The ultimate application of this approach is the use of models for circuit simulation purposes. It is this alternative approach which is the theme of this paper. One of the most important problems in understanding the technology of flotation has been in defining the characteristics of the particles being floated. Particles entering flotation vary widely in size and mineral composition, and different par- ticle types float at different rates. These rates do not change uniformly as operating variables change. It has been conventional practice to assess flotation performance in terms of the metal contents of total streams because no better method has been available, and this procedure has obscured important effects which occur in
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