The sound of flotation

Minerals processing involves the range of activities between the exploration and mining, and the manufacturing of minerals and mineral products.

In recent years, the technology involved in flotation has undergone a significant shift.

Today, flotation technology is all about the ability and capacity to treat higher tonnages of ores which are often complex and fine grained.

According to CSIRO Minerals’ Warren Bruckard, mine operators are looking for improved efficiency, reduced energy consumption and footprint.

An increased awareness of the environmental impact of flotation and associated unit processes is one of the factors contributing to the increased focus on reducing energy requirements and overall costs.

“Today’s operators are increasingly treating complex, low-grade, fine ores,” Bruckard told Australian Mining.

“Although a number of new, more selective reagents have been developed to help meet processor’s demands for higher recovery rates and grades for smelter feeds, it’s important operators know their ore in detail.

“The ore’s mineralogy and flotation characteristics help determine the flowsheet required for treatment. This in turn helps determine the flotation equipment needed to operate.”

The CSIRO currently has a number of projects underway investigating the fundamental science of flotation.

In one project, researchers have developed a Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) model that determines the effect of cell design and operational modifications for flotation cells which could result in significant improvements in recovery, energy consumption and capital utilisation.

The CFD model calculates the effect of cell design and operating conditions on hydrodynamics of the slurry, bubble distribution and bubble size. This information is then used to determine bubble-particle attachment rate and flotation cell performance factors.

The detailed hydrodynamics provided by the CFD model is useful for understanding batch flotation test results and for the design and operation of larger flotation cells.

According to Bruckard, other projects underway are aimed at meeting inceased demand for flotation technology.

Warren Bruckard

Science Leader, Flotation

CSIRO

Warren.bruckard@csiro.au

www.csiro.au

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