Flotation feed density is an operating parameter which is currently not well understood. Most models of flotation only incorporate its effect on particle residence time, but it is likely to have additional effects within both the pulp and froth phases of the machine. Test work was performed in Metso’s 3 m3 RCS test rig to investigate the effect of flotation feed density on metallurgical performance. The rig was operated at Rio Tinto’s Northparkes operation using flotation feed and scavenger tail. For each feed, tests were performed at different feed densities, and measurements were performed to estimate the pulp and froth recovery as well as other key flotation parameters (eg bubble size, turbulence and froth stability).
Results of this test work have shown that the pulp density does affect key parameters of the flotation process in both the pulp and froth phases. Pulp phase kinetic rates decrease at high density and this is attributed to a reduction in the turbulence within the cell. Froth phase recovery, however, improves presumably because of a stabilising effect due to a greater loading of solids on bubble surfaces.
There is a need for more research to be done to better understand these interactions so that metallurgists can determine the optimum flotation feed density to use at a particular operation, or within a section of a flotation circuit.
C, Tabosa, E, Crosbie, R and McMaster, J K, 2012. Effect of flotation feed
density on the operation of a flotation cell, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM
Mill Operators’ Conference, pp 171-178 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).