Froth Flotation (Sulphide & Oxide)

Froth Flotation (Sulphide & Oxide)

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Cu, Pb, Zn Separation (1 reply)

2 months ago
Boikanyo 2 months ago

I want to find out what determines the separation method in low-grade Cu, Pb, Zn ores? What determines if the separation should first be bulk flotation followed by selective, or if it should be selective from the onset?

Please recommend articles that can assist with understanding the answer to this question further.

2 months ago
Jorge 2 months ago

I think, it is important to define a low-grade ore. Polymetallic operations are used to adopt a different approach to consider an economic low-grade material. Probably, there are two key factors to evaluate, the first is the silver and/or gold grade, and the second one is the zinc grade. Obviously, the mineralogy has an impact on the flotation process, the presence oxides and interlocks are usually a serious problem. The silver grade is important to consider because the operating cost could be high to produce a saleable copper and/or lead concentrate. The zinc grade is other important point because the zinc/copper and zinc/lead ratio could be less than 1, therefore, the production of zinc concentrate would not be possible.

For example, 60 g/t Ag, 0.05% Cu, 0.8% Pb, and 0.7% Zn. In this case, it would be possible to produce a lead concentrate and most of the silver and copper should be reported in the lead concentrate. The production of a copper concentrate depends of the copper minerals, the presence of chalcopyrite helps to produce a copper and lead concentrate; the presence of argentiferous copper sulphides could be a restriction to produce a copper concentrate. Try to produce a zinc concentrate would not be possible because part of zinc (sphalerite) is lost in the lead-copper flotation circuit, consequently, the zinc grade would be much lower than 7%.  Other factor to keep in mind is the iron content. The presence of pyrite is usually a problem in the zinc circuit. This is just an example, there other variable to consider. If the zinc grade is for example 2%, it is possible to produce a zinc concentrate.

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