Plant tests of magnetic conditioning have shown increased flotation recovery of paramagnetic sulfide minerals (chalcopyrite, sphalerite and pentlandite) in the -38 µm size fraction within rougher and cleaner flotation circuits. A statistical plant test was undertaken in the Mount Isa zinc flotation circuit where magnetic conditioning was tested simultaneously in both the rougher circuit and the cleaner retreat circuit (cleaner scavenger). This test resulted in a normalised increase of 1.60 per cent in the rougher circuit zinc recovery and simultaneously a normalised increase of 4.60 per cent in the cleaner retreat circuit zinc recovery – to a very high level of statistical confidence.
Interestingly, in a novel approach, it was possible to verify the plant test results in two ways. Firstly, detailed MLA analysis of the tails confirmed the statistical plant test results and showed that the greatest effect of magnetic conditioning was on the sphalerite in the C3 – C6 size fraction, where there was a reduction of around 15 per cent in zinc in tails. Moreover, there was a reduction of around 15 per cent in liberated sphalerite across all -38 µm size fractions, but only a seven per cent reduction in non-liberated sphalerite in the tails. Secondly, plant modelling showed that increasing the rougher zinc recovery would cause an increase in zinc feed grade to the cleaner retreat circuit. The increase in the zinc feed grade to the cleaner retreat circuit with magnetic conditioning was demonstrated to a very high level of statistical confidence.
I, Voigt, P, Lumsden, B and Lines, P, 2012. Magnetic conditioning of sphalerite
at Xstrata’s Mount Isa Zinc Operations, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill
Operators’ Conference, pp 233-240 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).