Flotation of a porphyry copper ore with cellulose-surfactant mixtures as frother agents

Ted Nuorivaara, Rodrigo Serna Guerrero

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review


The use of polymer-surfactant mixtures as foam stabilization agents is a topic that has drawn the attention of several fields but has so far not be thoroughly studied in the context of mineral froth flotation. The present work showcases a study on the impact on flotation performance of cellulose surfactant derivatives and their mixtures with commercial frothers.
Bubble size and foam property measurements were run in a two-phase system along with laboratory-scale flotation experiments conducted using a porphyry copper ore from a mine in Finland. A comparative analysis on recovery, grade and flotation kinetics is presented on the products obtained using: i) a partially hydroxylated cellulose derivative (i.e. hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose; HPMC), ii) a commercial polyglycol-ester frother (Nasfroth240; NF240), and
iii) mixtures of these two.
The results show that using frothers with a total concentration of 30 ppm, the HPMC-NF240 mixtures provide advantages in terms of Cu recovery, (i.e., up to 95%), compared to the use of either NF240 (ca. 76%) or HPMC alone (ca. 1%). Interestingly, only a small proportion of HPMC mixed with NF240 was sufficient to produce a measurable increase in recovery. This improved performance was attributed to a synergistic effect of the polymer-surfactant mixture
which further reduced the bubble sizes in a two-phase system compared to that of NF240. The present work offers a further step into understanding the phenomena taking place when a short chained surfactant is either substituted or mixed with a cellulose derivative, offering potential ways of exploiting this behavior for the enrichment of minerals.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2019
MoE publication typeNot Eligible
EventCopper - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 18 Aug 201921 Aug 2019




  • Chalcopyrite
  • Copper
  • Flotation
  • Frothers
  • Green Chemistry
  • Hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose
  • Mineral processing
  • Polymer-surfactant mixtures


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