flotation hydrodynamics applied to improve recovery of Silver and Lead at Industrial level


JUAN ANES, FLOTTEC LLC; Jaime Godinez, Flottec Mexico; Mario Franco, Flottec Mexico; Adrian Tolentino, Fresnillo PLC

Hydrodynamics applied to flotation have been on the making for around 20 years and several attempts have been made to apply this knowledge to improve plant performance. While these topics were considered theory at one point, a growing body of evidence is demonstrating that these concepts are applicable at plant level. The new research took a different direction around 2010 due to rapid advances in statistical software, new computational power and increased instrumentation and data gathering at plant level. This research was executed at a Mexican operation producing Pb and Zn concentrates, where hydrodynamic flotation tools developed by Flottec, McGill and other researchers were applied to understand how to improve plant performance. These tools where used to plan a Design of Experiments at plant level to make changes on frother addition, superficial gas velocity and froth level. These changes allowed tracking gas hold up changes and linking these variations to process changes. In addition, other variables in the process where also tracked to establish dependencies. This project allowed obtaining enough information to give shape to a process control loop that can be implemented at the DCS to control concentrate grade and Pb and Ag recovery. This project also allowed gathering relevant information for future process improvements which will include frother selection and control loops in other parts of the flotation circuit.