An evaluation of the recovery of free and unliberated mineral grains, metals and trace elements in the concentrator of Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corp. Ltd.

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 833, 1981

WILLIAM PETRUK, Research Scientist, CANMET, Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, J.R. SCHNARR, Mill Superintendent, Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corporation Ltd.

The behaviour of minerals during flotation of a fine-grained pyrite-rich base metal ore was investigated by studying the feeds, concentrate and tailings from every flotation cell in the mill of Brunswick Mining and Smelting Corp. Ltd., Bathurst, New Brunswick. The samples were analyzed for Zn, Pb, Cu, Fe, Ag, Sb, Sn, Bi, In, Hg, Mo and As. Mass balances were computed and recoveries of all metals from each cell, from each circuit and from the mill were calculated. The percentages of sphalerite, galena and chalcopyrite occurring as free grains in each product were determined with an image analyser, as were size analyses for free mineral grains and middling particles, and compared with screen analyses. The results show that the behaviour of minerals is defined much better by the recovery of free mineral grains than by the recovery of elements. The recovery of free sphalerite in the zinc circuit is 96 wt %, whereas Zn recovery from the same circuit is 88 wt %, the difference being due to unliberated sphalerite. The recovery of free sphalerite from the mill feed is 88 wt % and Zn 78 wt %. The recovery of free galena from the mill feed is 88 wt % and Pb 64 wt Vo. The recovery of free chalcopyrite is 75 wt % and Cu 45 wt %. Size analyses show that more sphalerite and chalcopyrite can be liberated by regrinding, but the galena is so fine grained that regrinding would not necessarily improve liberation. Silver occurs mainly in tetrahedrite and galena; the main loss in the tailings is due to large (+26 um) and small (-1 um) free and unliberated tetrahedrite grains.
Keywords: Mineral processing, Concentrators, Brunswick Mining and Smelting, Mass balances, Screen analyses, Zinc, Lead, Copper, Sphalerite, Galena, Chalcopyrite, Milling, Flotation.