Differential flotation of a chalcocite-pyrite particle bed by electrochemical control

Gebhardt, J. E. ; Richardson, P. E.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
External control of the electrochemical potential of a bed of mineral particles was investigated by the US Bureau of Mines as a method for controlling particle interaction with organic collectors and, thus, flotation response. A cylindrically shaped, 200- to 300-g bed of sulfide mineral particles was used as the working electrode in an electrochemical-flotation cell. In a pH 9.2 sodium tetraborate buffer, chalcocite floated with ethylxanthate at applied potentials [=] - 0.25 V (versus the standard hydrogen electrode) ; pyrite floated at potentials [=] 0.15 V. Differential separation of a chalcocite-pyrite mineral mixture was obtained by controlling the potential, but the flotation response of the mixture did not follow the behavior predicted from measurements on the individual mineral beds. Chalcocite dissolution products had a deleterious effect on chalcocite-pyrite separation by activating pyrite so that it floated below the potential (~ 0.13 V) at which xanthate is oxidized to dixanthogen. A pyrite bed activated with a copper(II) sulfate solution exhibited a flotation response with a potential dependence between that of chalcocite and pyrite. Pyrite dissolution products had no effect on chalcocite flotation.
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