A review of investigations into the management of gangue in the flotation of platinum group minerals
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University of Cape Town
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Cyril O’Connor   

University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa, 7701 Cape Town, South Africa
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2018;54(4):1107-1115
The Bushveld Complex of South Africa contains almost 90% of the world’s reserves of platinum group minerals (PGMs). In the flotation of PGMs, there are significant challenges arising from the need to treat ever-decreasing grades of the relevant ore deposits. The major challenge in the flotation of these ore bodies is the control and management of the gangue minerals, particularly silicates such as orthopyroxene, plagioclase feldspar, and pyroxene which are often rimmed with talc which makes them naturally floatable. It has been shown that various polysaccharide depressants such as CMC and guar have different properties in terms of depressing the gangue minerals. Since the PGMs are often associated with sulphides, copper sulphate is widely used as an activator in PGM flotation but can inadvertently activate the gangue minerals as well as reduce the recovery of PtTe2 which accounts for up to 40% of the Pt in the Platreef ore body. Depressants also reduce the mass of solids reporting to the froth and can thus destabilize the froth. This effect on the froth can be mitigated by using higher frother dosages or water of higher ionic strength. In summary due care needs to be taken to carry out site test work to develop an optimum ratio of collector, frother, activator and depressant to ensure that the highest grades and recoveries of the PGEs are obtained while reducing depressant dosage as much as possible. Chromite recoveries can be reduced through the application of gravity separation or reducing entrainment through reduced water recovery.
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