Laboratory flotation tests on fresh cyclone overflow samples are a useful tool to troubleshoot and indeed to improve plant performance; however, reproducibility between laboratory flotation test and plant performance is important for interpretation of the laboratory tests and hence their usefulness. Chemical reproducibility can be achieved with the addition of the required reagents; however, reproducing the physics of forces and energy in a 5 L cell compared to a 50 000 L plant cell or a 500 000 L plant cell is not generally studied or discussed. For some tests such as collector evaluation the physics of the flotation process may not be critical, but for some evaluations in the laboratory, it can be important.
All flotation plants suffer from losses of valuable <20 µm mineral. Selective mineral aggregation has long been recommended to improve the poor flotation recovery of <20 µm sulfide minerals; however, successfully testing any type of selective sulfide mineral aggregation’s effect on flotation recovery in the laboratory on practical plant samples requires reproducing plant cell physics. The energy input per litre and the forces in a laboratory cell are vastly different to a plant cell. Reproducibility between laboratory and plant tests requires that these differences be minimised. The physics of the laboratory flotation cell is particularly important when fine mineral aggregation tests are carried out. This paper outlines a modified laboratory aggregation and flotation method that closely reproduces plant performance in a laboratory test. CITATION: Sato, D, Lumsden, B, Senanayake, S and Morgan, D, 2014. Development of a laboratory flotation method to test plant mineral aggregation, in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 173–178 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).