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Flotation Process

Flotation Process

The flotation process is a widely used method for extracting gold from its ores. In this process, finely ground ore is mixed with water and various reagents to form a slurry. The gold particles, which are hydrophobic, are then made to attach to air bubbles in the slurry. The air bubbles, carrying the gold particles, rise to the surface of the slurry, where they form a froth that can be skimmed off.
The following are the main steps involved in the gold flotation process:

01 Grinding:

The ore is first crushed and ground into a fine powder to liberate the gold particles from the surrounding rock.

02 Reagent conditioning:

Before the flotation process begins, reagents are added to the slurry. These reagents may include collectors, frothers, activators, and depressants. Collectors are chemicals that selectively bind to the surface of gold particles, making them hydrophobic. Frothers help to create a stable air bubble froth, while activators and depressants help to control the flotation process by either enhancing or inhibiting the attachment of certain minerals to the air bubbles.

03 Flotation:

The conditioned slurry is introduced into a flotation cell, where it is agitated to create air bubbles. The hydrophobic gold particles attach to these air bubbles and are carried to the surface, forming a froth layer.

04 Froth removal:

The froth containing the gold particles is removed from the flotation cell, typically by skimming or using a froth paddle.

05 Concentrate dewatering:

The gold concentrate obtained from the froth is dewatered, usually by vacuum filtration or pressure filtration, to remove excess water.

06 Further processing:

The dewatered gold concentrate may undergo further processing to extract the gold, mainly through smelting. The remaining tailings, which contain little to no gold, are disposed of or used for other purposes.

The flotation process is highly effective for extracting gold from sulfide ores, where the gold is often associated with other minerals, such as pyrite, chalcopyrite, or arsenopyrite. However, this process is less effective for extracting gold from oxide ores or ores with high clay content, as the clay can interfere with the flotation process.

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