Influence of Water Quality on Sulphide Ore Oxidation and Speciation of Sulphur Anions during Autogenous Milling

Benjamin Musuku*, Diana Kasymova, Eija Saari, Olli Dahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Earlier studies at the Kevitsa Cu-Ni concentrator plant have indicated that seasonal variations of the properties of the process water affect the oxidation of the surface of the minerals, and further, the pentlandite flotation performance. However, it is not clear whether the differences in flotation performance are solely due to changes in the mineral surface oxidation, and/or also due to surface oxidation-induced changes in the aqueous phase of the pulp. This paper investigates the effects of the mineral surface oxidation of Kevitsa Cu-Ni ore on the properties of the aqueous phase of the slurry. A systematic study was formulated to monitor the surface oxidation related changes in the mill circuit of the Kevitsa concentrator plant. The study was timed to coincide with a seasonally observed drop in the concentrator plant’s flotation performance, which happens during the summer months (June, July, and August). Both physicochemical parameters, as well as sulphur oxyanions in the plant process water, mill discharge, and hydrocyclone overflows were monitored. Also, the bubble size in selected rougher and cleaner cells was monitored. The results show that season-related changes in mineral surface oxidation cause clear differences in the aqueous phase chemistry of the mill circuit. The increased concentration of reduced sulphur species in the mill discharge is an indication of extensive oxidation of the ore during milling. Also, the bubble size of the flotation cells reacts to the observed seasonal change. The findings of the study confirm that the consequences expected, based on the theory of mineral surface oxidation, are observable downstream in the aqueous phase of the milling circuit. Based on these results, it is not yet possible to say whether the poor flotation performance is caused solely by the oxidation of the mineral surface or also by the properties of the aqueous phase of the slurry after milling. However, the results show that the plant needs both to find ways to limit oxidation rates in the summer, and to consider installing a more robust frother, capable of maintaining efficacy during the warm season. The findings of this study may help the plant to develop ways to enable a timely response to changes in the recycled process water quality, to prevent harmful impacts on pentlandite flotation. The former could be achieved by lowering the temperature of the process water and flotation air, whereas the latter could mean using a different frother.

Original languageEnglish
Article number277
Number of pages19
JournalMinerals
Volume13
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • flotation
  • oxidation products
  • pentlandite
  • plant performance
  • sulphuroxy anions

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