Mar 6, 2020 Mining blog

How to maximize ore and grade recovery through flotation

Max Howie
Max Howie
Global Product Manager, Flotation
For some time already, the ore reserves have been depleting with mines going deeper. With growing need to process more and more ore, coupled with stringent regulations for a cleaner production of metals, the mining industry is looking for more efficient and sustainable recovery solutions.
Example of RCS™ flotation machines displayed as an illustration.

Getting the most out of raw materials

Maximizing mineral recovery is an essential component for plant profitability and having the right flotation solution is important to improve resource recovery and further enhance return on investment. Without proper flotation, chances of lose greatly increase.

Having been around for over 100 years, froth flotation is considered as a widely used and highly versatile process for concentrating minerals from their ores. Its efficiency comes from the selective ability of separating hydrophobic from hydrophilic materials and is used to recover an array of minerals containing valuable commodities such as copper, lead, zinc, nickel, silver, gold, molybdenum, phosphate and potash among others.  

As separation efficiency of a single flotation cell is limited, multiple cells are used to improve the recovery of valuable minerals.

Flotation performance matters

In today’s mining environment, every percentage matter. A slight change in performance can have a far-reaching impact on the productivity and profitability of your operations. One key area that needs to be focused is the performance of a flotation circuit.

Optimal mineral recovery in a flotation circuit depends on the capacity to adapt to metallurgical variability in the ore being processed. It is possible that some banks of flotation cells might not be recovering ore at their maximum levels due to air flow, feed, mechanical, hydraulic, reagent imbalances.    

Recognizing the need for a solution that addresses these ever-challenging demands, Metso has made several advances in flotation design and technology. Combining its extensive flotation circuit analysis capabilities with patented DV™ (Deep Vane) mechanism, the RCS™ flotation cells have the potential to significantly cut operating costs and boost processing efficiency in any application for roughing, scavenging and cleaning duties. 

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The key to avoid recovery losses is to ensure that you install the right flotation solution in your process. Attributes such as innovative tank design, efficient air and level control, proven drive systems with safe and easy maintenance have helped mining companies in achieving higher ore and grade recovery in the flotation cell, while also optimizing energy usage.

Unlocking plant productivity with digital technologies

Fortunately, with advent of smart control and digitalization technologies in the last decade, mining companies have shown keen interest to acquire in-depth understanding of the flotation circuit. Many plants today, utilize digital tools such as advanced process control systems with froth cameras to maximize recovery by improving quality management during operation.

Digitalization has brought confidence that miners can achieve improved recovery, lower operating costs and increased asset life. For instance, Metso’s state-of-the-art Optimizing Control System (OCS-4D™) uses APC methods to optimize set points throughout the plant. This helps to maximize mineral recovery within plant physical and metallurgical constraints. Since 1990, Metso has provided optimizing control systems for grinding and flotation circuits with successful applications in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia.

Likewise, VisioFroth™ technology has been a key in helping mining companies to achieve higher froth recovery and grades. The camera provides online image analysis and live measurement of multiple froth properties such as velocity, colour, bubble size distribution, texture, stability and other parameters for optimizing flow control and reagent consumption within the concentrator.

Conclusion

Flotation continues to be one of the most important tools in mineral separation and processing of complex ores. Today, while the mining industry is focused on chasing higher productivity from existing assets, the ever-evolving technology has opened entirely new possibilities in controlling flotation processes. It is a well-known fact that efficient use of flotation machines can lead to major improvement in plant performance.

We at Metso, have not only been focusing on developing a market-leading solution for flotation, but also on our capabilities to help customers optimize the operation of their units. Our RCS™ flotation equipment is designed to ensure higher ore and grade recovery and throughput while reducing maintenance and energy costs.

RCS™ flotation machines
Developed to create ideal conditions to maximize flotation performance for all roughing, cleaning and scavenging duties.