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Effect of Regrinding Conditions on the Flotation of Chalcopyrite and its Separation from Pyrite in the Cleaner Stage


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Author X Chen, Y Peng and D J Bradshaw


At Newcrest’s Telfer gold mine, a strategy of regrinding pyrite rougher flotation concentrates has been proposed to increase gold recovery and reduce cyanide consumption in the CIL circuit. The regrinding will be followed by an additional copper/gold flotation stage, where copper minerals need to be separated from pyrite. However, although the minerals are well liberated, the separation of chalcopyrite from pyrite in the cleaner stage is not always straightforward. The surfaces of the fine particles, produced during regrinding, are more easily oxidised and contaminated than coarse particles, directly influencing the particle floatability. The depression of pyrite is difficult in the cleaner stage as well due to copper activation, a process which is also highly dependent on the grinding environment. In this study, different grinding media, including mild steel and stainless steel, was used in the regrinding to produce different regrinding chemistry, such as, pH, Eh, and iron hydroxide contamination. The effects of regrinding conditions on chalcopyrite flotation and its separation from pyrite were studied. It was found that the stainless steel grinding media, which produced an oxidising environment, was more beneficial for the separation of chalcopyrite from pyrite after regrinding. The mild steel grinding media had a detrimental effect on both chalcopyrite and pyrite flotation. This study addresses the importance of choosing suitable regrinding conditions in the pyrite and copper flotation circuit.

Chen, X, Peng, Y and Bradshaw, D J, 2012. Effect
of regrinding conditions on the flotation of chalcopyrite and its separation
from pyrite in the cleaner stage, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators’
, pp 279-286 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).