Eng. M.Sc.Eng Samuel Sánchez-Pino, Dr. Eng. Rainer M. Imhof, Julian Brown C. Eng, Eng. Samuel Sánchez-Baquedano, Flavio Rojos-Tapia,
Pneumatic flotation was introduced to the Chilean copper mining industry in 1993 by Ingeniería de Minerales S.A., being first implemented in 1994/95. The technology is based on the
designs of Dr. Rainer Imhof and from Chilean copper processing experience.
Pneumatic flotation has been successfully applied for sulphide and oxide copper minerals, copper slag, iron ores (reverse flotation) and gold, and also appears promising for molybdenum concentrates. Difficult separating conditions have been encountered in various process stages, including roughing, cleaning and scavenging. Pneumatic flotation can essentially be applied in any separation where differences exist between mineral and gangue interactions with water. Even high relative density slurries can be processed because the range of amenable particle sizes is quite broad, and the number of cleaning stages required has not exceeded one in our experience.
The performance efficiency of this technique can be explained by the high gas hold-up and the effective micro-turbulences which boost attachment to the bubbles, resulting in much reduced flotation time. Economic benefits include lower energy consumption, lower maintenance costs, simplicity and reliability and minimal plant area requirements.
In view of the Chilean mining industry experience, it can be concluded that pneumatic flotation can be regarded as a highly effective alternative to conventional methods in mineral processing.
Presented at Copper 2003, CIM, Montreal, Canada, November, 2003