SELECTIVE FLOTATION OF COPPER AND NICKEL SULFIDES

Strategic Metallurgy have demonstrated differential flotation techniques for Western Australian copper and nickel sulfide ores in saline water. Historically, selective flotation of copper from nickel sulfides has been achieved through pH modification; however, this method is rarely efficient, resulting in significant rejection of copper units to the nickel circuit. In Strategic Metallurgy’s experience, this alternative method is robust, easy to control and results in improved grade recovery profiles. This method has been trialled on a number of ores which have varying ratios of nickel and copper and in some cases dominated by iron sulfides.

BENEFITS

  • Copper recovery >92%

  • Copper concentrate 29% Cu

  • Nickel in copper concentrate <1% Ni

  • Good selectivity achieved between copper and nickel

  • Nickel recovery >88%

  • Nickel concentrate 13-26% Ni

ORES DOMINATED BY TALC/CARBONATE ALTERATION

Pre flotation and conventional depression with guar often yields low nickel recoveries. Strategic Metallurgy has successfully applied a technique to significantly improve the selective flotation of nickel sulfides in high talc ores. The ‘modified direct depression’ route that Strategic Metallurgy have applied, allows the relevant depressant to selectively target the talc mineral. Subsequent flotation of nickel sulfides, primarily pentlandite, can be conducted using conventional methods. The technique uses no special reagents but applies the known physiochemical properties of talc and nickel sulfides to improve the selective depression of talc.

BENEFITS

  • Strategic Metallurgy subsequently delivered a process design for a scoping study demonstrating strong financial performance

  • Flotation kinetics improved

  • Overall nickel recovery increased by 35%

  • Final recovery 85%

  • Concentrate grade was 2% higher

NICKEL

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