Application of radiotracers as tools to determine feed flowrate imbalances and particle size segregation in industrial flotation circuits
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Trazado Nuclear e Ingeniería SpA
These authors had equal contribution to this work
Publication date: 2023-11-06
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Francico Diaz   

Trazado Nuclear e Ingeniería SpA
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2023;59(5):174817
This publication presents the application of radiotracers in the characterization of industrial flotation circuits. Two examples are showcased: the detection of feed flow rate imbalances and the characterization of particle size segregation in automatic mineral-cutting machines. The feed pulp distribution was determined from the mean residence times. Particle size segregation was measured by sampling the cutting machines (≅ 25 grams samples) using coarse, intermediate, and fine-sized radiotracer particles. Radiotracers were injected into the feed streams and measured at various points of the circuit using nuclear instruments, allowing for non-invasive and real time detection. Results show that in the rougher flotation stage, the feed flow is distributed almost evenly in lines 2 and 3 (approximately 38% of the flow goes to each line) and to a lesser extent towards line 4 (approximately 24%). In lines 1 and 2 of the scavenger stage, a higher percentage of the flow goes towards line 1 (approximately 59%) and a lower percentage towards line 2 (41%). Line 6 of the rougher flotation is the fastest of the circuit (shortest residence time). In addition, the inlet mineral-cutting machine of the rougher stage segregates particles with a bias for fine sizes (11.4 % more fine-sized particles than coarse ones). This work is an example of how radiotracer technology can be applied to improve metal production and processes. Radiotracers provide reliable information to be used in combination with other metallurgical data to properly assess flotation circuits.
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