Electrochemistry of sulfide mineral flotation
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Jan 1, 1987
The use of various electrochemical techniques to study mechanisms of sulfide mineral- flotation reagent interactions is briefly reviewed in this paper. Prior to such studies it is desirable to thermodynamically determine solution conditions favorable for formation of hydrophobic species deemed to be responsible for flotation. The thermodynamic equilibrium involving both the stable and metastable species can be conveniently represented by an Eh-pH diagram. Thermodynamics can also be used to predict conditions where a mineral might not float if depressants are present. Under favorable conditions of flotation there is competition between reactions leading to formation of hydrophobic species with reactions that lead to formation of hydrophilic species. Due to the sluggish nature of the reactions involving sulfide minerals, a knowledge of the kinetic behavior of the system is necessary. Electrochemical methods of investigation are wed in laboratory studies to (1) control the state of oxidation, (2) determine the type and amount of electroactive species present at the mineral surface, and (3) study kinetics of electrode processes. By combining electrochemical techniques and wetting measurements the identification of hydrophobic species that might be present at the mineral surface could be achieved. Both contact angle measurements at mineral electrodes or flotation in a cell equipped with a particulate bed electrode can be used for the wetting measurements.