An experimental design has been developed to investigate the relative influence of distinct pulp and environmental properties on froth stability in the flotation of a typical porphyry copper ore. In particular, factors such as frother and collector type, feed particle size (P80), solids per cent, composition (chalcopyrite and pyrite content), as well as grinding environment (mild steel versus stainless steel, high and low pH) have been varied in a controlled manner, and the resulting froth stability evaluated. A previously developed froth stability column, based on the Bikerman approach, was used to measure the froth height and half-life in each test. The relative effect of each factor is presented here on a comparative basis. It is shown that frother type is the most important factor, with marked difference in froth stability when switching from methyl isobutyl carbinol (MIBC) to glycol based frothers. Solids per cent and particle size also play a significant role. The grinding environment had lesser effect on the resulting froth stability, although mild steel grinding gave higher froth stability compared to stainless steel grinding. The experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that in porphyry copper flotation the grinding environment influences surfaces oxidation, pyrite activation and the extent of hydrophobic particles reporting to the froth phase. This has an indirect effect on the resulting froth stability, which is however small if compared to the other factors. This work is still in progress, and extension to other mineral systems is planned. However, some insights are offered to operators on the parameters which are more likely to have an impact on froth stability in copper flotation plants.
Zanin, M, Chan, E and Xu, D, 2014.
Empirical evaluation of factors affecting froth stability in copper flotation,
in Proceedings 12th AusIMM Mill Operators’ Conference 2014 , pp 193–200 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).