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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
Print version ISSN 0038-223X


HARRIS, A; VENKATESAN, L  and  GREYLING, M. A practical approach to plant-scale flotation optimization. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2013, vol.113, n.3, pp.00-00. ISSN 2411-9717.

Decision-making regarding plant-scale reagent dosage regimes and air rates is a topic of ongoing investigation and high importance. The current work explains some techniques that have proven useful in deciding on plant-scale flotation operating regimes. Specific focus has been placed on the reagents: frother and depressant, as well as some discussion around the control of air rate and froth depth. Air rate has been selected based on its effects on the froth phase. Froth velocity and froth height above the cell lip are the two variables measured and used to select the operating air rate. Pulp level is then adjusted to increase or decrease mass pull. A technique has been developed using the Anglo Platinum Bubble Sizer on an industrial flotation cell to determine the relationship between bubble size and frother concentration. This technique has been extended to measure the equivalent frother concentration or frothabilities of various streams on a rougher bank. A mass balance for frother was performed successfully, and this provided a better understanding of the way frother moved in the rougher bank. With this knowledge, more informed decisions can be made about frother addition required in subsequent flotation stages. For depressant, a new protocol for deciding on dosage rate has been developed. The depressant dosage should be based on the amount of fresh feed material reporting to a bank. Currently 400 g per ton of fresh feed has been assumed a reasonable starting point, with promising results. Improved froth stability and grades were observed. There is scope for more accurately defining the optimal dosage rate. Importantly, the combined effect of changing the chemistry and the hydrodynamics together has been demonstrated. A significant upward shift in the grade-recovery relationship for a cleaner bank was observed.

Keywords : flotation optimization; air rate; reagents; frother; froth depth; depressant.

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