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Optimisation of Spodumene Ore Flotation using Zeta Potentials

Grigio, Joshua (2018) Optimisation of Spodumene Ore Flotation using Zeta Potentials. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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With the increase in global lithium consumption, it is vital that lithium refinery processes are optimised to combat this growing need. One of the richest sources of lithium, spodumene, was tested alongside a common gangue material, silica, for its zeta potential. Variables used are namely modifiers iron chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride and calcium alginate. These materials’ concentrations were tested using a zeta probe to identify theoretically optimal conditions to selectively float spodumene from the gangue. The source of spodumene used was a lithia concentrate obtained from Talison Greenbushes mine and refinery, giving a lithia (Li2O) concentration of 7.0%, which is the target of this investigation. Once the zeta potentials for both spodumene and silica were obtained from a range of pH values, flotation tests were performed to test the theory, followed up by XRD analysis to identify an estimated lithia concentration and confirm whether or not there are some applicable uses for zeta potential measurements in the mining industry.

It was discovered post experimentation and analysis, that at notable concentrations for certain cations, collectors and pH conditions, namely 250 mg/L of Ca (II) at a pH of 4 with an anionic collector, Fe (III) at concentrations less than 50 mg/L in neutral conditions with a cationic collector and at greater concentrations on ions in acidic conditions with an anionic collector. Further research in ranges of Mg (II) and sodium alginate concentrations would be required to identify their uses to optimise spodumene flotation; or separation from the bulk slurry solution.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Engineering and Information Technology
Supervisor(s): Parsons, Drew
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