Copper-gold-pyrite ore types with an elevated pyrite head grade utilise a sequential flotation circuit to recover initially a copper-gold concentrate with a pyrite-gold concentrate being produced from the tailing of the initial circuit.
A simpler flotation circuit with lower operating and capital costs for treatment of such copper-gold-pyrite ores with an elevated pyrite head assay was sought in the described work. After characterising the ore, the objective was to apply bulk rougher flotation of both the copper minerals and pyrite for the copper-gold-pyrite ore at natural pH. Hence, no lime or other pyrite depressants were required in bulk roughing. The bulk rougher concentrate was upgraded in a cleaner circuit to reject non-sulfide gangue and then the resulting sulfide concentrate was separated by depressing the pyrite to produce two products (copper and pyrite concentrates, both having significant gold assays). A standard test with a sequential circuit was applied to the same ore for comparison.
The chalcopyrite and pyrite losses in the tailing from the rougher circuit were the same for both bulk and sequential roughing (less than six per cent). In cleaning (bulk circuit), the effective pH for pyrite depression was 11.8–11.9; copper recovery was 70–75 per cent (grade of 15–20 per cent copper) and the sulfur recovery (pyrite product) was 80–85 per cent (grade of 34–36 per cent sulfur).
These results approached those for the sequential circuit where copper recovery was 80–85 per cent (grade of 15–20 per cent copper) and the sulfur recovery (pyrite product) was 83 per cent (grade of 38 per cent sulfur).
The observed effects of feed sizing on the liberation of
minerals in the rougher feed are discussed. Options for improving the bulk
circuit results are also considered. Importantly, the implications of various
aspects of these findings for the bulk circuit are discussed with an industrial
Akop, C, Farrokhpay, S and
Johnson, N W, 2014. An alternative circuit for chalcopyrite-pyrite ores with
elevated pyrite content in Cu-Au ore treatment, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM
Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 407–416 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).