Improved model for design of industrial column flotation circuits in sulphide applications
The dispersed plug flow model has gained acceptance for predicting mineral recovery from flotation columns, following the work of Dobby and Finch1. The model combines a steady state residence time distribution with first order flotation kinetics. It has been recognised that the first order rate parameter is related to a number of operating variables.
The present work has focused on developing a better understanding of the effect of the operating variables, to facilitate the use of the model in practical situations for column circuit simulation, scale-up, and design.
The influence of a range of operating variables was systematically studied at several sulphide concentrators throughout Australasia. The columns surveyed ranged from pilot to full scale, and were used to recover a variety of minerals, including galena, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, and iron sulphides.
The basic column model structure has been modified to include the observed effects of the operating variables. In this refined model the behaviour of the operating variables is clearly separated from the mineral specific terms. Consequently the model is a useful foundation for circuit simulation, as changes in performance between stages are not clouded by changes in column operation. In circuit modelling to date only discrete distributions have been used to describe the full range of mineral behaviour (ie. the individual species were divided into fast and slow fractions).
KeywordsBubble Size Iron Sulphide Flotation Column Mineral Selectivity Slow Fraction
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