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MEI Online: Froth Flotation: Latest News: April 9th 2014


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:: The Power of Flotation Surveys


Flotation surveying can be an extremely powerful means of determining opportunities for circuit optimisation and benchmarking. It is vital that the correct type of survey be conducted and that the objectives of the survey are clear from the onset. Failing to have either will result in less than desirable results and can hinder the true benefits that a good survey can bring.

Generally, the objective of conducting a flotation survey is to characterise a flotation circuit under known operating conditions however, surveys can be used to answer questions such as:

'What is the overall recovery of Chalcopyrite with a feed size distribution at a P80 of 150 micron's', to the more complex, or 'Should the cleaner tails be re-circulated, re-grounded or discarded?'.

As the nature of the motive varies, so too will the complexity of the appropriate survey. Hence, a clear set of objectives from the onset are vital. Commonly a desired outcome of a survey campaign is optimization. Understanding of the current plant performance, or benchmarking, is often first required followed by prediction of performance under changed conditions. Alternately, a survey may be used as a basis to make predictions and therefore decisions regarding expansion of the existing flotation plant in which case a full circuit modelling survey (FCM) is required as illustrated in diagram below.


Figure 1. Schematic of a complex modelling survey. Red dots indicate sample points, green dots indicate cell measurements
and gray dashed circles indicate batch testing.


FCM surveys essentially involve performing a detailed survey in order to enable floatability mapping for circuit modelling. These surveys are best performed in triplicate. Two to establish a baseline and an additional survey, under changed conditions, performed to validate the modelling. FCM surveys require extra measurements must be performed compared to normal surveys such as batch flotation testing on selected streams throughout the circuit, measurements such as bubble size, air hold-up, etc.

The advantage of this type of survey is the ability to produce a floatability component model which is useful for problem diagnosis and optimisation simulation of the flotation circuit. The modelling provides a comprehensive definition of the plant performance and the parameters may be valid for simulation for years to come. In addition, future ore changes can be overcome by a calibrated floatability test.

Detailed methodologies for different survey types and techniques have been documented in a recent paper by JKTech (Di Sandro et al., 2013). The paper describes in detail current best practice survey methods of defining objectives and scope of the survey, choosing the correct types of sample equipment used to take samples from various streams. The paper was delivered at Procemin and the Proceedings of Procemin 2013 which include this paper can be purchased via the Procemin 2013 website.




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