The effect of conditioning on froth flotation

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The method and extent to which mineral slurries are conditioned have been shown to greatly affect flotation grades and recovery. Most of this work is very mineral specific and centres around one or two operating variables. One of the major obstacles to understanding the effects of such pretreatment more fully, and to developing a global understanding of conditioning, is the system specific nature of the procedures applied to each mineral, and the apparently conflicting results across a range of mineral types. This thesis sets out to define conditioning both broadly enough to encompass almost all aspects of conditioning, as well as specifically enough to be useful in the study of single mineral-collector systems. Having done this, a measure of the efficiency or effectiveness of conditioning is devised and used to evaluate the relative effects of variables of conditioning, as well as to gain some insight into the mechanisms affecting the results. The work is completed by relating these observations to expected results in industrial applications and their implications on plant procedures. Most forms of conditioning for flotation were found to fit into two basic categories, which if they both take place in the same process, follow one another sequentially. In this thesis, these were termed "primary" and "secondary" conditioning, and were defined as follows: Primary Conditioning relates to the physical preparation of the surface of the particles, including comminution, oxidation, acid leaching and bacterial pretreatment. Secondary Conditioning is the process whereby prepared particles are rendered hydrophobic or hydrophilic through mixing, control of the environment and contacting with reagents.

Bibliography: pages 154-159.