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Flotation of oxidized zinc ore without desliming

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2010, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 34-41

Martins, L.; Pereira, C.A.; Galery, R.; Peres, A.E.C.


 To increase zinc recovery in the concentrate, this investigation performed mineralogical characterization, dispersion studies, bench and pilot-scale flotation experiments and an industrial flotation trial. The objective was to verify the flotation behavior of the silicate zinc ore (calamine type) in the presence of slimes, with the aid of dispersing agents. Characterization studies identified the major minerals in the flotation feed as hemimorphite (calamine), quartz and dolomite. Dispersion tests showed that enhanced dispersion of the particles in the pulp in the absence of reagents occured at a pH range between 8.5 and 12.0. Bench-scale flotation experiments were planned using the statistical tool of complete factorial design at two levels, replicated once. These experiments showed, and were confirmed at the pilot-plant scale, that higher doses of sodium sulfide and polymeric dispersant combined with sodium silicate favored a higher metallurgical recovery. At 6,800 g/t (218 oz/st) sodium sulfide and 6,992 g/t (224 oz/st) polymeric dispersing agent combined with sodium silicate, a zinc grade of 38.4% in the final concentrate was achieved, at an average metallurgical recovery of 72.4%. The industrial trial confirmed the pilot scale results, leading to zinc recovery of 76.1% and a 37.3% zinc grade in the concentrate.