Bubble interactions with chalcopyrite and molybdenite surfaces in seawater

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The detrimental effect of seawater on Cu-Mo flotation has attracted much attention in recent years, which has mainly been focused on altering the detrimental effect of seawater on the floatability of molybdenum ore. The interaction between bubbles and particles during flotation is a key factor in understanding the detrimental effect of seawater. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effect of seawater on bubble-particle interactions with chalcopyrite and molybdenite surfaces. Moreover, the effect of emulsified kerosene, a typical molybdenite collector, on bubble-particle interactions in seawater was investigated. Artificial seawater was used as a seawater model solution in this study. Flotation tests using pure chalcopyrite and molybdenite showed that the addition of emulsified kerosene to artificial seawater at a specific pH could selectively improve the floatability of molybdenite while maintaining the low floatability of chalcopyrite. A study of the bubble-particle interactions was then performed to analyze the phenomenon. It was found that the kerosene adsorbed at the air/liquid interface of the bubble improved the bubble aspect ratio and reduced the bubble rise velocity in artificial seawater. Moreover, kerosene could accelerate the formation of three-phase contact between the bubble and both mineral surfaces at the natural pH of artificial seawater. Additionally, this study showed that seawater colloidal precipitate formed under high pH conditions might be adsorbed on the mineral surfaces and might improve the stability of the intervening liquid film on the surface, thus preventing bubble-particle attachment and decreasing mineral recovery. Under these high pH conditions, the emulsified kerosene and seawater precipitate might compete in terms of adsorption on the mineral surfaces and the flotation results would most likely depend on the kerosene and hydrophilic adsorbate coverage on the mineral surfaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106536
JournalMinerals Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanical Engineering


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