New insights related to the flotation of covellite in porphyry ores

Yesica L. Botero*, Rodrigo Serna-Guerrero, Alejandro López-Valdivieso, Mostafa Benzaazoua, Luis A. Cisternas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Covellite usually occurs accompanying other copper minerals, like chalcopyrite and chalcocite, but there are few studies on covellite flotation. The effect of collectors O-isopropyl-N-ethyl thionocarbamate (IPETC) and potassium amyl xanthate (PAX) and pH on covellite and pyrite flotation was investigated through a Hallimond tube test using pure covellite and pyrite and a Denver cell test using porphyry ore. Pure covellite and pyrite were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). Moreover, the covellite was characterized using scanning electron microscopy coupled to energy dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). Porphyry ore was characterized by automated mineralogy using scanning electron microscopy (QEMSCAN®). Design of experiments was utilized to identify the factors with a statistical influence (ANOVA) and obtain the optimal flotation conditions using response surface methodology (RSM) and desirability function. ANOVA test demonstrated that the factors that influence covellite behavior are the collector type and dosage. The results obtained on pure minerals shows that with a high PAX concentration and low pH, it is possible to carry out bulk flotation with recoveries of 93% covellite and 90 % pyrite, and with a low IPETC dosage and high pH, it is possible to get a selective flotation with around 81% covellite and 20% pyrite recoveries. These results were determined using RSM and desirability function, and corroborated with the Hallimond tube test. Then, the flotation results of mixture covellite-pyrite show that selective flotation is feasible with IPETC at alkaline pH with a low dosage displaying recoveries of 97 % covellite and 53 % pyrite. Also, bulk flotation is feasible with PAX at a pH of 8 and a high collector concentration with recoveries of 96% covellite and 88% pyrite. The results show that covellite recovery is not pH-dependent. The Denver cell test with a porphyry ore shows a selective flotation with IPETC at a pH of 11 with a low collector dosage (5 g/ton), achieving recoveries of 92% covellite and 39% pyrite. Also, recoveries of 85% covellite and 75% pyrite were observed for a bulk flotation with IPETC at pH = 8 at the same collector dosage. Therefore, the IPETC can be used as a selective or bulk collector when varying the pH and collector concentration. These results demonstrate that covellite flotation performances remain constant over a wide range of pH values, which allows a selective separation from other sulfides such as pyrite.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107242
Number of pages13
JournalMinerals Engineering
Early online date8 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Amyl xanthate
  • Bulk flotation
  • Covellite
  • Pyrite
  • Selective flotation
  • Thionocarbamate


Dive into the research topics of 'New insights related to the flotation of covellite in porphyry ores'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this