Grinding Chemistry and its Impact on Copper Flotation

Additonal authors: . 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

Greet, C. J.

Grinding with an electrochemically inert grinding media (i.e. high chrome white iron, or Magotteaux’s Duromax® alloys) shifts the pulp potentials to more oxidising conditions, increases the dissolved oxygen content and reduces the EDTA extractable iron concentration when compared with milling with electrochemically active grinding media (forged steel). These changes in pulp chemistry produce cleaner particle surfaces, reduce reagent consumption and increase concentrate grades and recoveries. This paper presents a robust laboratory test program that is able to not only demonstrates these effects but also provide an indication of the magnitude of the improvements that are possible. While laboratory studies are interesting, the proof is in the pudding! So, the paper provides an overview of plant trials conducted at a number of operations around the world, including: Newcrest’s Cadia Operation, Oz Minerals’ Prominent Hill Mine and Glencore’s Ernest Henry Mine. These successful plant trials clearly demonstrate that selection of the right grinding media alloy will yield savings in grinding media consumption and reagent consumption as well as increases in revenue through improved copper, gold and molybdenum recoveries. INTRODUCTION The key to a successful separation in mineral processing is the preparation of particles with adequate liberation under the correct pulp chemical conditions. While the importance of liberation on flotation separations is generally understood and well documented in the literature (Johnson, 1987; Jackson, Sutherland, Gottlieb & Quittner, 1989; Young, Pease, Johnson, & Munro, 1997; Greet and Freeman, 2000), the importance of pulp chemistry is more nebulous, particularly with regard to the impact of grinding media. Extensive work examining the electrochemical interactions between grinding media and sulphide minerals has been completed (for example, Iwasaki, Reid, Lex & Smith, 1983; Natarajan and Iwasaki, 1984; Yelloji Rao and Natarajan, 1989(a); Yelloji Rao and Natarajan, 1989(b)). Broadly, these studies indicate that most sulphide minerals are more noble than the grinding media used during comminution, therefore a galvanic couple between the media and the sulphide mineral(s) exists, which increases the corrosion rate of the grinding media. The corrosion products of the grinding media, iron oxy-hydroxide species, invariably precipitate on to the surfaces of the sulphide minerals thereby affecting their floatability (Johnson, 2002).
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019