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Study of the natural floatability of molybdenite fines in saline solutions and effect of gypsum precipitation

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2015, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 203-208

Lucay, F.; Cisternas, L.A.; Gálvez, E.D.; López-Valdivieso , A.


The floatability of molybdenite fines in saline solutions was investigated through microflotation studies using a modified Hallimond tube. In addition, the effect of pH and gypsum precipitation from calcium ions (Ca2+) and sulfate ions (SO4 2−) ions in saline water on the recovery of the molybdenite was analyzed. It was found that the floatability of molybdenite fines significantly increased with the ionic strength of the saline solutions and is independent of pH above 0.5 mol/L ionic strength. The high floatability of molybdenite in saline solutions is explained as being due to the low electrostatic repulsion between bubbles and the edges of molybdenite particles, which is exceeded by interactions due to van der Waals and hydrophobic forces. The precipitation of Ca2+ and SO4 2− ions as gypsum had a detrimental effect on the natural floatability of molybdenite because of gypsum crystal attachment on the faces of the molybdenite particles. This precipitation phenomenon may be initiated in copper–molybdenite flotation circuits that use recycled saline water, like seawater containing Ca2+ and SO4 2− ions.