A comparison of pyrrhotite rejection and passivation in two nickel ores

Journal Article

2013

Authors
Journal Title

Minerals Engineering

Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher

Elsevier

Publisher

University of Cape Town

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Abstract
The non-stoichiometric sulfide mineral pyrrhotite (Fe1-xS) occurs almost ubiquitously inter-grown with the principal nickel mineral, pentlandite ((Fe,Ni)9S8). During Ni processing, pyrrhotite is generally rejected to the tailings stream by flotation to produce a low tonnage, high grade (Ni) smelter feed and reduce SO2 emissions. In this study, the effect of different pyrrhotite flotation rejection strategies (artificial oxidation and TETA: SMBS addition) are evaluated on a magnetic (Ore A) and non-magnetic (Ore B) pyrrhotite ore to determine if either may effectively depress and potentially passivate the pyrrhotite surface during flotation to produce benign tailings without compromising pentlandite recovery. For both ores, the best pyrrhotite rejection (pentlandite/pyrrhotite recovery) was obtained using TETA: SMBS. Differences in the flotation performance of the two ores are considered more a function of BMS content, liberation and ore handling rather than a difference in sulfide passivation from the inherent pyrrhotite mineralogy (magnetic vs non-magnetic pyrrhotite). Pyrrhotite passivation could possibly provide a means of rendering the tailings non-reactive and thus mitigate acid rock drainage (ARD) formation.
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