Flotation of a Porphyry Copper Ore with Cellulose-Surfactant Mixtures as Frother Agents

Additonal authors: Guerrero, Rodrigo Serna-. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Nuorivaara, Ted

The use of polymer-surfactant mixtures as foam stabilization agents is a topic that has drawn the attention of several fields but has so far not be thoroughly studied in the context of mineral froth flotation. The present work showcases a study on the impact on flotation performance of cellulose surfactant derivatives and their mixtures with commercial frothers. Bubble size and foam property measurements were run in a two-phase system along with laboratory-scale flotation experiments conducted using a porphyry copper ore from a mine in Finland. A comparative analysis on recovery, grade and flotation kinetics is presented on the products obtained using: i) a partially hydroxylated cellulose derivative (i.e. hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose; HPMC), ii) a commercial polyglycol-ester frother (Nasfroth240; NF240), and iii) mixtures of these two. The results show that using frothers with a total concentration of 30 ppm, the HPMC-NF240 mixtures provide advantages in terms of Cu recovery, (i.e., up to 95%), compared to the use of either NF240 (ca. 76%) or HPMC alone (ca. 1%). Interestingly, only a small proportion of HPMC mixed with NF240 was sufficient to produce a measurable increase in recovery. This improved performance was attributed to a synergistic effect of the polymer-surfactant mixture which further reduced the bubble sizes in a two-phase system compared to that of NF240. The present work offers a further step into understanding the phenomena taking place when a short chained surfactant is either substituted or mixed with a cellulose derivative, offering potential ways of exploiting this behavior for the enrichment of minerals. INTRODUCTION Froth flotation has been the predominant technology used to beneficiate sulfidic copper minerals such as chalcopyrite ever since it was invented in the late 19th century. The reason for the domination of flotation technology lies behind its versatility in selective separation as well as relatively cheap operational costs (Wills & Finch 2015). Even though flotation of sulfidic copper minerals is moderately well understood based on the broad research work done around the subject (e.g., Albijanic et al., 2015, Bournival et al., 2017, Wang et al., 2015, Mikhlin et al., 2015, to cite only a few), the modern era presents new challenges to the primary raw material industry, including questions regarding sustainability of mining operations accompanied by a need to improve the process efficiencies due to declining ore grades (Edraki et al., 2014).
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019