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Minerals Engineering 23 (2010) 826–829

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Minerals Engineering

jou r n a l hom ep ag e: www. el sevi er .com /l ocate / m i n e ng

Technical Note

A continuous pilot-scale flotation rig for the systematic study of flotation variables

S.D.D. Welsby a,*,S.M.S.M. Vianna a, J.-P. Franzidis b

a The University of Queensland, Sustainable Minerals Institute, Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre, Qld 4072, Australia
b Department of Chemical Engineering, Centre for Mineral Processing, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:
Received 19 August 2009
Accepted25 May 2010
Available online 20 June 2010

Keywords: Flotation kinetics Flotation machines Sampling
a b s t r a c t

A pilot-scale flotation apparatus has been developed for the purpose of determining floatability param- eters for an ore. It has the capability to vary many of the important flotation variables allowing them to be investigated independently. Adjustable factors include: cellsize, froth depth, feed, tailings and air volu- metric flow rates and reagent addition rates.
The flotation rig was commissioned successfully at BHP Billiton’s Cannington mine in North-West Queensland, Australia. It was found to supply a stable feed stream with air well distributed across the cell. At the test conditions, the relative standard deviation of the calculated galena overallrecovery was found to be only 1%.
Such an apparatus could prove invaluable in flotation research, allowing live streams from an operating industrial flotation plant to be processed continuously. The versatility of the design and accuracy of per- formance allow the investigation of most major flotation variables with confidence.
© 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Allrights reserved.

1. Introduction

There are two main approaches for determining floatability parameters for the Australian Mineral Industry Research Associa- tion (AMIRA) P9 flotation model (Gorain et al., 1998; Savassi,
1998). The Floatability Component Method employs batch flota- tion tests to fit floatability (P) to the P9 model (Runge et al.,
1997); however, thisapproach is expensive and time consuming. In the physical-property-based approach all the other model parameters are determined and P is back-calculated from the mod- el. The Floatability Characterisation Test Rig (FCTR) (Rahal et al.,
2000) is a continuous pilot flotation plant used to back-calculate P from the model; however, the rig is difficult to operate and re- quires extensivesampling.
A single-stage pilot-scale apparatus has been built for the pur- pose of investigating the P9 model parameters, specifically P. Req- uisite features include: simple stable continuous operation, high reproducibility giving confidence in the determined parameters, access to all streams to give redundant data in mass balancing, ac- cess to the pulp volume for gas dispersionsampling, adjustable froth height and control of feed, air and reagent addition rates as well as impeller speed. This paper details the performance of the apparatus at a single, industrially relevant condition in terms of the variability of stream flows and cell overall, froth and pulp zone true flotation recoveries on an unsized basis.

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 7 3365 5888;fax: +61 7 3365 5999.
E-mail address: simon.welsby@uqconnect.edu.au (S.D.D. Welsby).
2. Description of the rig

The apparatus, originally designed and constructed as a high Sb cell (Vera et al., 1999), has been adapted to the design of a labora- tory rig built previously at the JKMRC for ore floatability determi- nation (Vianna et al., 2000). A photograph of the rig and some of...
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