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Some aspects of the electrochemistry of the flotation of pyrrhotite

Buswell, A.M. and Nicol, M.J.ORCID: 0000-0002-8757-161X (2002) Some aspects of the electrochemistry of the flotation of pyrrhotite. Journal of Applied Electrochemistry, 32 (12). pp. 1321-1329.

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The iron sulfide mineral, pyrrhotite (Fe(1-x)S), has long been known to be more difficult to recover by flotation from alkaline slurries than many other base metal sulfide minerals. This paper summarizes the results of an electrochemical study of the surface reactions that occur during the flotation of nickeliferous pyrrhotite in the recovery of nickel and the platinum group metals. Mixed potential measurements conducted with natural pyrrhotite electrodes in various stages of an operating flotation plant showed that the mineral potential is positive to the equilibrium potential of the xanthate/dixanthogen couple. Similar results were obtained during batch flotation experiments and in synthetic solutions in the laboratory. Cyclic voltammetric and potentiostatic current/time transient experiments were used to investigate the oxidation of pyrrhotite under various conditions. In addition, the reduction of oxygen, the reaction of copper ions and the oxidation of xanthate ions at the mineral surface were investigated. The formation of dixanthogen on pyrrhotite surfaces is thermodynamically favourable in plant flotation slurries. However the interaction with xanthate at pH values above 7 is inhibited by a surface species formed during the conditioning prior to xanthate addition. In acidic solutions copper ions react readily with pyrrhotite to form a species, possibly CuS that can be oxidized at potentials above 0.4 V. At pH 9 this species does not form and there is no electrochemical reaction between pyrrhotite and copper ions. The beneficial effects of copper ions to flotation performance appear to be related to an enhancement of the oxidation of xanthate.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Parker Cooperative Research Centre for Integrated Hydrometallurgy Solutions
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
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