In flotation, the selection of the size, number and type of cell for a particular duty depends on two important factors. Firstly, the required flotation residence time and secondly, the physical constraints of how much concentrate can be recovered for a given froth surface area and concentrate lip length.
The residence time is influenced by ore type and characteristics such as liberation, kinetics and reagent dosage. The amount of concentrate that can be recovered for a given froth surface area and lip length depends on ore type and other characteristics such as particle size, specific gravity and mineral grade.
Residence time is determined through a combination of laboratory-scale test work and design scale-up factors. However the critical froth transport parameters such as froth carry rate and froth lip loading cannot be determined in a laboratory. This is because the froth is scraped during a laboratory flotation test and thus does not exhibit natural behaviour, and it is not possible to scale-up froth transport distance or air rate. These values are generally compared via calculation to rule-of-thumb maximum values to establish if these values will be exceeded by the flotation cell selection.
This paper first reviews these critical froth transport parameters and then discusses actual parameter values across diverse operating sites, with varying cell duties, cell sizes and types, orebodies and particle sizes. These values are compared against the industry rule-of-thumb to test the applicability of the rule-of-thumb to actual performance. Options are also presented for adjusting these parameters in operating flotation cells.
Coleman, R G and Wong, B, 2018. Flotation launder design and the measurement of critical froth transport parameters, in Proceedings 14th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2018, pp 353–362 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).