Alteration of chalcopyrite’s surface chemistry during stockpiling and its impact on flotation

CIM Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3, 2012

S. Kelebek Queen’s University, Kingston, ON B. Nanthakumar Process Research ORTECH Inc., Mississauga, ON

The sensitivity of sulphide minerals towards oxidation depends on the mineralogical makeup and nature of sulphide ores. This paper focuses on chalcopyrite behaviour in a nickel-copper sulphide- ore matrix that was aged in the mine-site stockpiles. Results of collectorless, collector-induced flotation and recovery by size are presented following a discussion of XPS analysis that was used to gain insight into oxidative alteration of chalcopyrite’s surface chemistry. Chalcopyrite maintains its high flotation activity despite exposure to weeks of oxidative conditions. It is concluded that chalcopyrite is quite tolerant to stockpile oxidation due to various factors related to alteration of its surface chemistry.
Keywords: Chalcopyrite, Stockpile oxidation, Surface chemistry, XPS analysis, Flotation, Recovery by size