Electrochemical flotation of sulfides : the bornite-ethylxanthate system

Zachwieja, J. B. ; Richardson, P. E. ; Walker, G. W.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
The electrochemical nature of mineral-collector interactions and their relationship to flotation have been investigated to develop a better understanding of the factors controlling sulfide mineral beneficiation. Spectrophotometric and electrochemical techniques have been used to examine the reactions occurring on electrodes composed of a bed of bornite particles in the presence and absence of potassium ethylxanthate (KEtX) at a pH of 9.2. The combined techniques showed that KEtX sequentially reacts with bornite by (1) a chemisorption reaction forming ca hydrophobic species between --0.4 and -0.2 V (SCE), (2) an electrochemical oxidation reaction forming cuprous xanthate between -- 0.2 V and the xanthate/ dixanthogen redox potential, and (3) oxidation to dixanthogen when the potential exceeds the reversible value for the xanthate/dixanthogen couple. The flotation response of bornite closely parallels spectrophotometric and electrochemical evidence for adsorption of KEtX by the reactions listed above. The degree of surface oxidation resulting from the formation of iron oxides on the surface dictates the flotation response as evidenced by the fact that oxidized bornite floats at more anodic potentials than unoxidized bornite. The strong correlations between the flotation response, degree of oxidation, and potential indicate that chemisorbed xanthate produces a hydrophobic layer sufficient to float unoxidized bornite, but cuprous xanthate and dixanthogen arc required to float oxidized bornite.
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