Although it is well understood that in flotation collection zone and froth zone are deeply interconnected, and reagents (and in particular collectors and frothers) cannot be selected without considering their synergistic effect, this concept is rarely applied in plant practice. The feed mineralogy also has an important role in how particles and reagents interact in flotation, which is sometimes overlooked by operators. In this work, a combination of batch flotation tests and froth stability measurements was used to optimise the collector and frother scheme for the flotation of a copper ore. The methodology was applied to an Australian copper plant which was experiencing high variability in froth stability in the roughers when the feed ore mineralogy was changing. It was hypothesised that chalcopyrite in the feed in combination with isobutyl-xanthate had a destabilising effect on the froth phase under the reagents scheme used. Froth stability was restored if a shorter chain length, less hydrophobic, xanthate was employed. It is apparent that the hydrophobicity of adsorbed films at the solid/liquid/air interfaces has a critical role in enhancing or reducing froth stability. Unstable froth causes a reduction in copper recovery in spite of a high collection zone flotation rate. The case study suggests that collection zone and froth zone can rarely be optimised independently of each other. With the laboratory procedure adopted, a more suitable reagents scheme was determined to respond to changes in the feed mineralogy, avoiding fluctuations in plant performance due to unexpected froth instability.
Farrokhpay, S and Zanin, M, 2012. Synergic effect
of collector and frother on froth stability and flotation recovery – An
industrial case, in Proceedings 11th AusIMM Mill Operators' Conference, pp 145-150 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).