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Controlled-potential sulphidization and rougher-cleaner flotation of an oxide-sulphide copper ore


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Author Jones MH, Wong KY and Woodcock JT


Previous results have shown how con- trolled-potential sulphidization (CPS) can give improved metallurgy during rougher flo- tation of mixed oxide-sulphide copper ores. Results in this paper, using different samples and different equipment, confirm the previous results and extend the application of CPS to cleaner flotation. By using CPS, faster flotation of copper minerals (chalcocite and malachite) from clay was obtained in roughing and cleaning, and improved concentrate grades and recoveries were achieved over those by conventional manual control. The optimum sulphidizing potential (i.e. the potential of a sulphide ion-selective electrode versus a saturated calomel electrode) was -500 mV, and could be controlled to ±5 mV, during four rougher- scavenger and three cleaner-re cleaner stages. This optimum gives the best balance between copper recovery, concentrate grade, and sodium sulphide consumption. Five cleaning circuits and five ore com- posites of different composition (0.55-1.50 per cent Cu) were examined as well as the effect of feed size and pulp density. Better results were obtained at 20 per cent solids in a Denver cell than at 33 per cent solids in an Agitair cell; this may have been related to the high clay content of the ore. Commercial equipment for pilot plant or full-scale plant application of CPS is cur- rently being developed.