Influence of clays on the slurry rheology and flotation of a pyritic gold ore
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The presence of clay minerals in ores has been known to adversely affect the flotation performance. This work investigated the influence of kaolin and bentonite clays on the flotation of gold-bearing pyrite in the gold ore. The changes in rheological properties of the flotation pulp under normal operating conditions were also studied with the additions of kaolin and bentonite clays at various solid concentrations. The zeta potential measurements also were carried out to understand the mechanism of adsorption of potential determining ions. It was found that bentonite clay reduced the pyrite recovery, and modified the pulp rheology more than kaolin. The addition of Ca2 + ions to the pulp containing bentonite improved the pyrite flotation recovery by its ability to modify the rheological characteristics. It is consistent with the published literature that Ca2 + ions suppressed the swelling properties of bentonite, and altered the surface charge properties of bentonite clay particles. Additionally, the rheological characteristics such as the flow index and the consistency index affected the flotation performance as the former indicates the extent of movement of bubbles and particles within flotation pulp. This suggests the possibility of using the rheological measures to monitor the changes in the flotation performance in routine plant operations.
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