Water quality effects on a sulfidic PGM ore: Implications for froth stability and gangue management
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Centre for Minerals Research, University of Cape Town
Malibongwe Shadrach Manono   

Centre for Minerals Research, University of Cape Town, South Lane, Upper Campus, New Chemical Engineering Building, UCT, 7700 RONDEBOSCH, South Africa
Physicochem. Probl. Miner. Process. 2018;54(4):1253–1265
Polysaccharide depressants play a crucial role in the flotation of sulfidic PGM bearing ores as they prevent naturally floatable gangue (NFG) from reporting to the concentrate. This action is regarded as critically important because less dilution of the concentrate means lower costs for downstream processes. However, abnormal water conditions such as high concentrations of ions in the flotation system can modify the selectivity of these depressants. It is well known that the existence of selected electrolytes in water can alter the behaviour of some polysaccharide depressants by enhancing their adsorption onto gangue minerals and thereby prevent naturally floatable gangue from moving into the froth phase. Concurrently these same electrolytes may enhance frothability owing to their stabilising effect on the bubbles within the system. Plant water at various ionic strengths was investigated against sodium carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) dosages in order to understand electrolyte-depressant interactive effects during the flotation of a Merensky ore in a batch flotation cell, using entrainment, rate of NFG recovery, and total gangue recovery as proxies. The study showed that the NFG recovery per unit mass of water decreased with increasing ionic strength at all CMC dosages, however the total amount of gangue reporting to the concentrate increased with increasing ionic strength at all CMC dosages. Thus, this paper considers the effects of both ionic strength and CMC dosage within flotation. It further investigates whether any interactive effects exist between froth stability and entrainment when considered simultaneously.