Froth flotation of a Merensky platinum bearing ore with various THIOL collectors and their mixtures
Kloppers, Lourens Marthinus
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The Bushveld igneous complex in northern South Africa has the largest deposit of platinum group elements (PGE) in the world. In trace amounts, these are closely associated with base metal sulphides (BMS). Froth flotation is used to beneficiate these PGE ores. The process constitutes a bulk sulphide recovery. Improvement of recovery of the BMS is required to maximise the recovery of PGEs. The performance of the froth flotation process is largely dependent on the chemical additives used and these chemicals have been extensively studied. Mixtures of collectors are widely used in the flotation of sulphide and platinum group mineral (PGM) ores. A range of performance benefits for the use of mixtures over pure collectors have been observed on many systems. These include improved valuable metal grades and recoveries, lower reagent dosage requirements, improved rates of flotation and enhanced recovery of coarse particles. Improvements observed with mixtures of chemical reagent have been attributed to synergism; defined as the interaction of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their individual effects. Synergism is highly desired in froth flotation. For this study, mixtures of thiol collectors were used in batch froth flotation tests in an attempt to identify synergism between the different collectors on flotation performance of a typical platinum ore from the Merensky reef. Flotation performance was evaluated in terms of grades and recoveries of copper and nickel, and the rate of metal flotation. Single thiol collectors of xanthate (SIBX), a dithiocarbamate (DTC) and a dithiophosphate (DTP) were evaluated to determine the effect of functional group on flotation performance. SIBX was then used in mixtures with both DTC and DTP at various molar ratios to establish whether synergism occurs between these collectors on this particular platinum ore. Molar ratios of 90:10, 80:20, 70:30 60:40 and 50:50 were considered with SIBX being the major component. Further tests were conducted with the addition of a carboxymethyl cellulose depressant to the collector mixtures.