X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the most common technique used for online slurry assaying in base metal flotation applications. Typically, assays from feed, concentrate and tailings slurries are used to monitor and control the flotation circuit, with possible additional sampling locations in other main slurry flows inside the circuit. The elemental content detection from the XRF spectrum is relatively straightforward as the spectrum contains element-specific peaks whose height corresponds to the element concentration in the sample. However, centralised XRF analysers measure the elemental concentrations line-by-line, which may increase the sampling interval for an individual line and cause unnecessary response delays, especially in large flotation plants. Reflectance spectroscopy is an emerging technique that can be used to obtain more frequent measurements from slurries. The measurement is based on the mineral-specific absorbance of light in the visible and near-infrared (VNIR) wavelength range. Due to this relatively inexpensive and simple measurement system, it is possible to conduct the measurement simultaneously in several slurry lines. However, the information contained in the VNIR spectra is more difficult to interpret as concentrations of all the minerals in the sample contribute to the measured spectrum and changes in solids content, particle size and mineralogy disturb the elemental content estimation. Therefore, frequent calibration of the measurement is required. This study presents the application of combined reflectance spectrum and XRF measurements for rapid online slurry assaying in a copper-nickel flotation plant. The XRF assays are utilised as calibration samples for the reflectance spectrum measurement, keeping the calibration model up-to-date. The rapid reflectance spectrum analysis is then used to provide an almost continuous estimate of the slurry contents, enabling further improved process monitoring and control.
Haavisto, O, Maksimainen, T, Rantala, A, Timperi, J and Kaartinen, J, 2016. Reflectance Spectroscopy with X-ray Fluorescence for Rapid Online Assaying in a Copper-nickel Flotation Plant, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference 2016, pp 85–92 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).