The effect of frother blends on the flotation performance of selected PGM bearing ores
Centre for Minerals Research, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7701, Cape Town, South Africa
Concentrators processing PGM bearing ores make use of polysaccharide depressants to reduce the recovery of the undesired naturally floatable gangue minerals, mainly silicates, present in the ore. Recent work has shown that high depressant dosages can completely depress naturally floatable gangue and thus prevent it from reporting to the concentrate. These high depressant dosages can, however, have a negative effect on the recovery of valuable minerals present in the ore by reducing the stability of the froth. In order to counterbalance the effects of depressant addition, frothers are added. It is, however, preferable to maintain independent control over bubble size and froth stability which is difficult to achieve with only one frother. An alternative strategy is to use a blend of frothers, e.g. a weaker frother in combination with a stronger frother. Such a system allows an additional degree of freedom: changing the ratio of the two frothers provides more independent control of bubble size and froth stability. This study demonstrates through the use of batch flotation tests how blending low molecular weight alcohols with commercially available frothers impacts the solids and water recovery, as well as the valuable mineral recovery and concentrate grade in different PGM ores. Higher water and solids recoveries together with higher valuable mineral recoveries (>90% copper and >70% nickel) were obtained from tests using frother blends. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Concentrate grade; Degree of freedom; Floatable gangue; Flotation performance; Frothers; Independent control; Low molecular weight alcohols; Mineral recovery; Alcohols; Blending; Froth flotation; Ores; Recovery; Silicates; Ore treatment