Acidified water glass in the selective flotation of scheelite from calcite, part II: species in solution and related mechanism of the depressant
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Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF)
Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden Rossendorf
Bioanalytical Chemistry, TU Dresden
Nathalie Kupka   

Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology (HIF)
Publication date: 2020-07-22
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2020;56(5):797–817
Sodium silicate is one of the main depressants against calcite and fluorite in the scheelite flotation industry. In the first part of this article, the authors acidified sodium silicate (AWG) with three acids (sulfuric, oxalic and hydrochloric) to improve its performance. Results showed that acidified water glass outperforms alkaline water glass in terms of selectivity: it increases mainly the grade by further depressing silicates and calcium-bearing minerals. In most cases, AWG requires lower dosages to do so. The effect of acidified water glass is evaluated through Mineral Liberation Analysis (MLA), froth analysis, Raman and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in order to hypothesize its mechanism. MLA shows that AWG affects silicates and sulfides more intensely than semi-soluble salt-type minerals. Froth observations indicate other species in solution associated to the acid having an impact on the flotation results. Raman spectroscopy and NMR measurements indicate that the solution undergoes deep depolymerization when water glass is acidified. Lower molecular weight silica species, specifically Si-O monomers such as SiO(OH)3- will be responsible for the depression of the gangue minerals and are the drivers of the selectivity of AWG, more than orthosilicic acid. Depolymerization is more or less effective depending on the mass ratio of the acid to water glass and depending on the acid.