Additonal authors: Mitsuhashi, K.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
Copper sulfide minerals such as chalcocite, bornite, and chalcopyrite exhibit high floatability, thus they can be recovered as a froth product by adding only a collector in flotation process. However, when their surface is oxidized, the floatability decreases and the simple addition of collectors is no longer effective. In this case, flotation activators are required to improve the floatability. Sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) acts as an activator for chalcocite and bornite by re-sulfurizing their oxidized surface portions. Nevertheless, the flotation conditions still require optimization in order to achieve a satisfactory recovery of copper minerals. This work addresses the study of the effect of pH and NaHS dosage on the flotation of a complex Chilean copper ore containing chalcocite, bornite, and chalcopyrite. Flotation experiments were conducted using a Denver-type flotation cell and by investigating the effect of two NaHS dosages (50, 100 g/t) and three pH values (8, 9, 10). Following this process, the surface interaction between the minerals and NaHS were analyzed using zeta potential measurements.
In recent years in the mining area of metal resources, the complexity of ores and the fineness of grind required to liberate minerals have become serious problems. When ores are complex, several valuable minerals may interact with each other and reactions may become more complicated compared with an ore containing only one valuable mineral. Therefore, more processing steps may be required than for a simple ore. When the valuable minerals exist as fine grains, it is difficult to liberate them and more grinding time is required. Furthermore, the probability of collision of fine particles with bubbles in the flotation process declines and it takes much time to recover them. Flotation is one of the most applied methods to separate valuable minerals from unwanted ones using the difference of hydrophobicity (or hydrophilicity). In the flotation method, the air is fed to a cell filled with the pulp of the mineral of interest and agitation is implemented to introduce air and generate bubbles. The hydrophobic particles attach themselves to the bubbles and float along with the bubbles while the hydrophilic particles remain in the pulp.
Copper sulfide minerals such as chalcocite (Cu2S), bornite (Cu5FeS4), chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) are widely known abundant copper resources. Generally, flotation is used to recover and concentrate these minerals. Copper sulfide minerals usually have high floatability. However when their surfaces are oxidized, their floatability becomes lower. When the sulfide surfaces are oxidized, activators are added before flotation to modify the surface property of the Copper sulfide minerals so that they can be floated. Sodium hydrosulfide, NaHS, is known as one of the activators. Zhao (2018) reported that NaHS is often used as a sulfurizer for oxidized sulfide minerals (Becker (2014), Clark (2000), Newell (2006), and Newell (2007)).
In earlier work, the authors performed flotation tests on a sample of Chilean copper ore which contained chalcocite, bornite, and chalcopyrite using a Denver-type flotation apparatus. The sample was ground to P80 70 µm with a rod mill and ball mill. In these tests, the following conditions were used: natural pH (about pH 8.5), flotation time of 45 min, 60 g/t AP3477 (sodium diisobutyl dithiophosphate) as collector, and MIBC (methyl isobutyl carbinol) at appropriate dosage as frother. NaHS was applied at the dosage of 0, 67, and 120 g/t, respectively at the conditioning. The concentrates were collected at 6, 18, 30, and 45 min. The weights of the concentrates and tailing were measured and they were assayed for copper by ICP-AES (Optima 5300 DV, PerkinElmer Inc.). The flotation recoveries of the copper minerals were calculated from the results of MLA (mineral liberation analyser) (MLA 650, FEI) measurements.