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Two-stage coal flotation to remove pyritic sulfur, arsenic, selenium and mercury

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2013, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 162-168

Cho, E.H.; Olajide, O.; Yang, R.Y.K.


This study focuses on partial leaching of coal pyrite with sodium sulfite in order to increase its degree of liberation from the coal matrix, which might help to increase the removal of coal pyrite, together with trace elements of arsenic (As), selenium (Se) and mercury (Hg) by froth flotation. The U.S. Bureau of Mines’ two-stage reverse flotation process was applied to further reject coal pyrite in the second stage, where pyrite was floated while coal was depressed. The results show that the leached coal flotation with sodium sulfite produced lower pyritic sulfur content in the clean coal by approximately 25% compared to the flotation of unleached coal. The synergism mechanism between the leaching and the two-stage flotation is delineated. The rejection of trace elements (As, Hg and Se) after the two-stage flotation process with unleached coal followed approximately that of pyritic sulfur (64.6%). However, after the two-stage flotation with leached coal, the rejection of Se was as high as that of pyritic sulfur (77.9%), while the rejections of As and Hg were 20% lower than that of pyritic sulfur, or followed approximately the same rejections obtained through the two-stage flotation with unleached coal.