Optimizing the design of flotation circuits

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 73, No. 824, 1980

G.E. AGAR, Section Head, Mineral Processing, J. Roy Gordon Research Laboratory, Inco Metals Co., Mississauga, Ontario L5K 1Z9, R. STRATTON-CRAWLEY, Project Metallurgist, Project Development, Inco Metals Co., Port Colborne, Ontario L3K 5W2, T.J. BRUCE, Project Assistant, Process Technology Inco Metals Co., Thompson, Manitoba R8N 1P3

A technique by which the design of a flotation circuit may be optimized is described and examples of the application of this methodology are given. Three interrelated criteria are defined and the application of these criteria to the selection of the optimum residence time for each stage of a flotation circuit is demonstrated. The criteria are:(1) Add no material to the concentrate that is lower in grade than the feed to that separation stage.(2) Maximize the difference in recovery between the desired mineral and the gangue.(3) Maximize the separation efficiency.Three independent systems were examined experimentally and it was shown that application of any of the criteria yielded similar results.It was demonstrated how the application of rate measurements (Criterion 2) could lead to the selection of a set of optimized times for several stages in a flotation circuit and that these could in turn be used to simulate the results of a locked cycle test. The predictions were checked against the experimental results from a locked cycle test, and there was substantial agreement between the predicted and observed results.
Keywords: Mineral processing, Flotation, Locked cycle tests, Separation efficiency, Pipe ore, Copper, Nickel, Chalcopyrite.