Investigating the effects of ultrasonic energy on the flotation behavior of pyrite and galena minerals
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Although pyrite is one of the more abundant minerals of the earth crust, it has low economic value. When it reports to the concentrate during flotation along with the valuable minerals, it decreases the grade of the valuable minerals and leads to an increase in smelting costs. Numerous modifications have been suggested in the literature to increase the selective recovery of pyrite containing base metal-sulfide ores. The use of ultrasonic applications is one such method. In this study, the effect of the ultrasonic application on the flotation behavior of galena and pyrite mineral was investigated through systematic Hallimond Tube experiments. In the initial phase of the experiments, the optimum flotation conditions (particle size, pH, amount of air, and amount of reagent) were determined for the two minerals. Subsequent experiments were carried out under these optimums to distinguish the effect of the ultrasonic application. The influence of how the ultrasonic application was applied (i.e. before and during the conditioning stage or before the re-flotation of the concentrate) was also studied. It was observed that the ultrasonic application had a strong activating influence if it was administered before or during the conditioning stage. The effect was similar to whether the minerals were floated individually or from their mixtures. However, when it was applied to a flotation concentrate before re-flotation, it selectively displayed a depressant action for the pyrite to the extent that no depressants were needed. The results conclusively showed that the ultrasonic application could drastically improve the selectivity of the complex ores.