Additonal authors: Bobicki, E. R.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
The continued demand for mineral products, coupled with the depletion of high-grade ore resources, has led to the mining of lower grade ores, which often require fine grinding to achieve mineral liberation. Regrinding of low-grade ores results in the production of fine gangue mineral solids and produces vast quantities of fluid fine tailings which are difficult to separate from water, particularly if they are composed of clay minerals. Organic synthetic polymers and inorganic salts have been widely applied in flocculation of colloidal suspensions in the treatment of mining tailings. However, there are growing concerns regarding their impact on the environment and human health. Recently, extracellular biopolymer flocculants or bioflocculants have attracted much attention as alternative reagents.
In this study, much effort has been devoted to considering the effectiveness of protein and polysaccharide-based biopolymers for the dewatering of clay slurries. The interaction between kaolinite and illite clays and biopolymers was investigated via settling tests at pH 7 and 10. Zeta potential measurements were also conducted as a complementary technique. Results showed that protamine and lysozyme protein- based biopolymers were generally the more effective bioflocculants. Pectin, a polysaccharide-based biopolymer, showed a dispersing effect and has the potential to be used as a dispersant and/or depressant for clay minerals in froth flotation.
With the depletion of high-grade ore resources, the need for mining of low-grade ores has increased over the past few decades (Bourgès-Gastaud, Stoltz, Dolez, Blond, & Touze-Foltz, 2014; Chen, Walshe, Fru, Ciborowski, & Weisener, 2013; C. Wang, Harbottle, Liu, & Xu, 2014). Low-grade ores often require fine grinding and contain clay minerals, leading to the generation of fluid fine tailings (FFT). It is a challenging process to separate suspended clay particles from water (Craciun, Manaila, & Stelescu, 2013; Dompierre, Lindsay, Cruz-Hernández, & Halferdahl, 2016; Kasperski & Mikula, 2011; Mercier et al., 2012). Clay minerals form stable dispersions in water due to their anisotropic nature, non-spherical morphology and colloidal size (Lagaly & Ziesmer, 2003; Olphen, 1977). The difficulty in separating clay minerals from water has led to the accumulation of vast quantities of FFT in oil sands, phosphate, copper and nickel operations, representing a huge liability for mining companies (Chen et al., 2013; Mercier et al., 2012)