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Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Minerals Engineering

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Minerals Engineering

journal homepage: www.else vier.com/loc ate/mineng Recovering molybdenite from ultrafine waste tailings by oil

Recovering molybdenite from ultrafine waste tailings by oil agglomerate flotation

Fu Jiangang, Chen Kaida, Wang Hui , Guo Chao, Liang Wei

School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Key Laboratory of Resources Chemistry of Nonferrous Metals, Ministry of Education, Central South Uni versity, Changsha, 410083, Hunan, People’s Republic of China

article info

Article history:

Received 14 March 2012 Accepted 9 July 2012

Keywords:

Oil agglomerate flotation (OAF) Molybdenite Waste tailings Recovery

abstract

Neutral oils like kerosene, diesel, transformer and rapeseed oil were used as collectors or bridging reagents in conventional flotation and oil agglomeration flotation (OAF) process, and a promising OAF process has been developed for the recycling of ultrafine molybdenite resources from the waste tailings. The average size of collected particles ( d p 50 ), agglomerates (d 50 a ) and their distribution of the froth concen- trate were determined by laser particle size analyzer or sieve analysis. Conventional flotation froth can- not catch the ultrafine particles, so it is an ineffective process to recover molybdenum metal in the waste tailings, while OAF has some advantages to recover fine minerals. And the best result was obtained from transformer oil due to its appropriate length of carbon chain, kinematic viscosity and cyclical structure. The oil amount plays a very important role on average size of the particles, with the increase of trans- former oil from 2.0 to 13.8 kg/t, d a 50 increases from 0.15 to 0.68 mm and d 50 p decreases from 9.06 to 2.05 l m. This finding suggests the bigger the d a 50 , the smaller the d 50 p , and the higher the recovery of molybdenite. The appropriate conditions for recovering ultrafine molybdenite were determined as follows: dosage of frother: 0.5 kg/t, natural pH: 6.2, stirring time: 3 min, and stirring intensity:400–600 r/min. Lastly, the closed cycle test and industrial application in the producing scale of 500 t/d were carried out, and result shows 95% molybdenum was recovered with a satisfied grade of 22.62%. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

During conventional molybdenite flotation practice, regrinding and multi-stage cleaner are adopted to obtain satisfactory grade and good recovery in molybdenum concentrate. However, because greater size reduction is necessary to liberate the minerals, fine and ultrafine rougher or cleaner tailings are inevitably generated in the process ( Ansari and Pawlik, 2007; Rubio et al., 2007; Triffett et al., 2008 ), and these tailings would cause numerous problems in con- centration stage and other treatment stages. Since the conven- tional beneficiation techniques like froth flotation and gravity concentration processes are inefficient in the ultrafine size range ( Sivamohan, 1990; Sönmez and Cebeci, 2003a; Miettinen et al., 2010 ), a significant amount of molybdenum is inevitably lost in waste tailings and discharged to tailings pond. Therefore, the treat- ment of waste tailings by flotation is an important subject of inter- est to researchers and engineers. This could potentially conserve the mineral resources and reduce environmental waste. The reuses of waste tailings are investigated in many countries, which have a significant advantage in terms of increasing metal productivity and reducing the amount of waste to be rejected

Corresponding author. Tel./fax: +86 731 88879616. E-mail address: huiwang1968@163.com (W. Hui).

0892-6875/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

( Szymocha, 2003; Valderrama and Rubio, 2008; Ercikdi et al., 2010 ). The conventional methods used in China to recover molyb- denum from middlings are mainly hydrometallurgical leaching processes, such as sodium hypochlorite oxidation method, chlo- rine-alkali method and electro-oxidation method ( Zhu et al., 2000; Feng, 2008; Xu et al., 2010 ). Unfortunately, hydrometallurgi- cal processes are not applicable to deal with lower grade waste tailings, because preconcentration is almost unnecessary before chemical processes. Flotation is considered as the best process route for metal enrichment in the mining industry due to its wide range of appli- cation and ease of operation and implementation, and the conven- tional beneficiation methods are inefficient in the sub-sieve size below 38 l m. Therefore, column flotation, carrier flotation, selec- tive flocculation and oil agglomeration methods have been devel- oped to recover fine particles ( Subrahmanyam and Forssberg, 1990; Cebeci, 2003; Sadowski and Polowczyk, 2004 ). In these methods, oil agglomeration has some advantages, i.e. simplicity of operation and high recovery ( Rossetti and Simons, 2003; Sönmez and Cebeci, 2003a; Valderrama and Rubio, 2008 ). The oil agglomeration is based on differences in surface properties be- tween the mineral particles. Oil agglomerate flotation process can be considered as a combination of oil agglomeration operation and froth flotation. In this beneficiation process, most of the liquid

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F. Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139

hydrocarbons, e.g. kerosene, diesel oil, other petroleum derivatives and vegetable oil, can be used as bridging reagents that is utilized to improve floatability of ultrafine particles by increasing the par- ticle size. Therefore, when small amounts of oil are introduced into agitated slurry, the hydrophobic particles become oil-coated and stick together to form agglomerates, while the hydrophilic parti- cles remain unaffected, and then the agglomerated products can be separated from the suspension by simple froth flotation operation. The basic principles of oil agglomeration and effects of various operating parameters have been investigated by many researchers, and the technique has been used in the mineral industry for the purification of coal from sulphur and ashes ( Mehrotra et al., 1983; Laskowski and Yu, 2000; Gray et al., 2001; Aktas, 2002; Alonso et al., 2002; Cebeci and Sönmez, 2002, 2006; Sahinoglu and Uslu, 2008 ), recovery of fine sized gold from ores ( Moses and Petersen, 2000; Sen et al., 2005; Valderrama and Rubio, 2008 ), agglomeration of oxide such as barite ( Sönmez and Cebeci, 2003a, 2004 ), calcite ( Sönmez and Cebeci, 2003b; Cebeci and Sönmez, 2004a ) and celestite ( Cebeci and Sönmez, 2004b ) for the separation process, improving the quality of waste-derived char ( Hwang et al., 2008 ), removal of impurities from wastewater ( Huang and Fang, 2001; Kang and Shin, 2006 ) and de-inking of paper ( Azevedo and Miller, 2000 ). To sum up, most of the oil agglomeration studies have been per- formed with natural hydrophobic particles such as coal and natural gold, but there is nearly no research on oil agglomeration of waste fine mineral tailings. In this study, the oil agglomeration flotation (OAF) process was efficiently conducted to recover ultrafine molybdenite from waste tailings in industrial scale, and some con- crete and appropriate agglomeration conditions had been determined. Therefore, the aim of this work is to obtain a molybdenum con- centrate at satisfied grade for the next chemical processes with metal recovery as large as possible, and discuss some concerned physico-chemical problems.

2. Materials and methods

2.1. Tailings

Samples used in this study were taken from an obsolete molyb- denite tailings reservoir (The total inventory quantities of tailings have exceeded 4 million tons) in Zhejiang province, China, and the chemical analysis results are given in Table 1 . Those waste tailings had been produced since 1950s, and be- cause of the low-level technological equipments used in the past, they contain a substantial amount of Mo (1.04%). Obviously, such a large amount is worth recovering. The analysis indicates that main components of the tailings are silicate, calcium-bearing min- erals (mainly is calcite), iron-bearing minerals, alumina magnesia minerals and some sulfide minerals like pyrite. The phase analysis of the tailings indicates that molybdenum mineral mainly occurs as sulfides (98.08%) and only 1.92% amount as molybdenum oxide. Particle size analysis was conducted using standard laboratory wet and dry screening methods. Table 2 shows the particle size and molybdenum distribution of the tailings. As expected, the tailings

Table 1 Composition analysis results of the tailings.

Components Mo

Cu

Zn

Ni

Pb

S

P

Na 2 O

Content (%)

1.04

0.14

0.61

0.05

0.56

0.92

0.06

0.35

Components K 2 O

MgO

CaO

Al 2 O 3

Fe 2 O 3

MnO

TiO 2

SiO 2

Content (%)

0.23

2.57

24.14

5.13

18.98

1.82

0.46

42.86

Table 2 Particle size analysis and molybdenum distribution in the tailings.

Size fraction (mm)

Yield (%)

Grade of Mo (%)

Distribution of Mo (%)

+0.28

2.11

0.13

0.26

0.28 + 0.125 0.125 + 0.076 0.076 + 0.045 0.045 + 0.038 0.038 Total

7.69

0.19

1.40

8.17

0.22

1.72

10.32

0.36

3.56

3.66

0.68

2.39

68.06

1.39

90.67

100.00

1.04

100.00

exhibit a wide distribution in particle size, and 68.08% of the mass is finer than 38 l m, the d 50 (mean diameter) of the tailings is 10.99 l m ( Fig. 3 ). The size of 90.67% molybdenum particles in the tailings is less than 38 l m.

2.2. Chemicals and Instruments

In the experiments, kerosene, diesel, transformer and rapeseed oils were used as bridging reagents, respectively. JSR1302 Oil Density Measuring Instrument (JingShi Chem. Eng. Instrument Ltd, Hunan), TSY-1109 Viscosity Measurement (TeAn Ltd, Dalian) and K-11 Tensiometer (SiberHegner Ltd, Hong Kong) were used to determine density, kinematic viscosity and surface tension of these bridging oils, respectively. Pine oil was used as the frother. All oils were industrialized chemicals. In addition, analytical grade calcium oxide (CaO) was used as pH regulator. The physico- chemical properties of the bridging reagents are given in Table 3 .

2.3. Methods

Oil agglomeration experiments were conducted in a 2 L glass vessel with two baffles at the border to create turbulence by using a mechanical stirrer, and prior to the oil addition, the tailings- water mixture was agitated for 2 min at a stirring speed. In each experiment, the oil was injected into the slurry, and then suspen- sion was conditioned before agitation speed to agglomerate molybdenite particles. After these, the pulp was transferred to a XFD-1.5 L flotation cell (Changchun, China), and further condi- tioned for 2 min, and the agglomerated products were concen- trated as a rougher froth product for the subsequent flotation. Similarly, conventional flotation experiments were directly con- ducted in XFD-1.5 L and XFD-1.0 L flotation cell but without the process of oil agglomeration. Either conventional flotation or OAF, the rougher pulp consistency was fixed at 30%. After filtration, both froth concentrate and final tailings were dried in a vacuum oven and then weighed for further analysis and mass balance calculation. The particle size distribution of the raw tailings and froth con- centrate were determined by two methods. The average size of agglomerates ( d 50 a ) was determined using a sieve analysis aiming at the directly dried agglomerates, while the average size of min- eral particles ( d 50 p ) determined using Mastersizer 2000 laser parti- cle size analyzer (Malvern Instruments Ltd. United Kingdom) by dispersing the froth particles in absolute alcohol. In order to get accurate information of the agglomerates, the dried concentrate were soaked and cleared with gasoline 1 repeatedly, and the washed concentrate were dried again and then sonicated for 10 min before the measurement. In addition, the morphology of the concentrate was examined with a scanning electron microscope (FEI Sirion 200 FEG SEM).

1 Ethanol and gasoline have a good miscibility, i.e. can be dissolved in any proportion under anhydrous condition, while miscibility of diesel oil in ethanol is worse than gasoline.

F. Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139

Table 3 Physico-chemical properties of the bridging oils.

135

Oil type

Density (kg/m 3 , 20 C)

Kinematic viscosity (mm 2 /s, 40 C)

Surface tension (mN/m)

Length of carbon chain

Fundamental ingredients

Kerosene

800

1.6

24.0

C12–C15

n

-Alkanes

Diesel

840

3.7

27.2

C15–C18

n

-Alkanes

Transformer oil

895

11.5

29.5

C16–C23

Cycloalkanes Unsaturated fatty acid

Rapeseed oil

915

13.3

27.3

C16–C22

3. Result and discussion

3.1. Conventional flotation and oil agglomeration flotation

The conventional flotation and OAF tests were carried to ob- serve their differences. Kerosene, diesel, transformer oil and rape- seed oil act as both collector and bridging oil, and the test flowsheet is shown in Fig. 1 . The dosage of frother was fixed at 200 g/t in conventional flotation. The conditions of OAF were fixed as follows: stirring speed is 800 r/min, stirring time is 5 min and frother dosage is 500 g/t. The flotation results are presented in Fig. 2 . The oil amount plays a significant role in the recovery of ultra- fine molybdenite. As shown in Fig. 2 , during conventional flotation, though the oil amount was increased to 1.0 kg/t, it forms loose and friable froth or just a little flocs in the flotation cell, because oil can- not act as bridging reagent but just as collector. Such friable min- eral-bearing bubbles are very weak, and cannot be recovered completely. In a word, it is hard to be taken as an effective process to recover the molybdenum metal in waste tailings by conven- tional flotation, because the molybdenum recovery is less than 7.4% when the collector amount is below 1 kg/t. It is well known, molybdenite has natural hydrophobic prop- erty. The important question arises why the conventional flotation is not effective for the molybdenum recovery? It is attributed to the mineral particle size. Fig. 3 shows the particle size and distribu- tion of the raw tailings and froth concentrate. As shown, the aver- age size of mineral particles ( d 50 p ) in conventional flotation froth concentrate using transformer oil as collector is 10.52 l m, which is close to the raw tailing’s particle size, while the average particle size of OAF concentrate are less than 5.92 l m, and the lowest one is 2.05 l m when transformer oil is used as the bridging reagent. Therefore, it can be inferred that the conventional flotation froth

it can be inferred that the conventional flotation froth Fig. 1. The flotation test flowsheet. Fig.

Fig. 1. The flotation test flowsheet.

flotation froth Fig. 1. The flotation test flowsheet. Fig. 2. Contrast test of conventional and oil

Fig. 2. Contrast test of conventional and oil agglomeration flotation.

could not recover the ultrafine molybdenite particles, but OAF was able to do it. SEM images of conventional flotation concentrate showed that the recovered molybdenite particles are mostly granular and var- ied size particles with loose structure ( Fig. 4 a and b). The granular particles are not molybdenite since MoS 2 is layered sulfide, which indicated that the conventional flotation recovers only a low-grade molybdenite concentrate. Also, the pulp level has to be elevated to meet the scraping requirements to recover loose and friable froth during conventional flotation. On the other hand, OAF concentrate were scraped out from the cell much more easily, and the froth products have ultrafine platy shaped particles. These platy shaped particles are believed to be molybdenite, which have layered struc- ture ( Fig. 4 c and d).

3.2. Type and amount of agglomeration oil

We have found that the molybdenite tailings can be agglomer- ated successfully with any of the oil used in this study. Unfortu- nately, the increase of vegetable oil (rapeseed oil) only has little effect on molybdenum recovery, as presented in Fig. 2 . The benefit of naphthenic vs linear chain oils can account for this phenomenon ( Smit and Bhasin, 1985 ). The fundamental ingredients of rapeseed oil are unsaturated fatty acids, e.g. erucic acid, oleic acid and lino- leic acid, and they are always used as the collectors of gangues, especially for calcium, iron, aluminium, magnesium bearing min- erals. When rapeseed oil is used as the bridging oil, the gangue par- ticles tend to adsorb on the oil droplets, preventing their coalescence. The surface of agglomerates are mostly occupied by gangue minerals, which are the main components of the tailings; while molybdenite particles mostly remain in the water phase and do not attach to oil droplets, so they are not recovered. Obviously, the other three oils can be successfully used in the molybdenite OAF. The molybdenum recovery increases rapidly with increasing the amount of bridging reagent from 2.0 to

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F. Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139

Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139 Fig. 3. Particle size distribution of the

Fig. 3. Particle size distribution of the raw tailings and froth concentrate.

size distribution of the raw tailings and froth concentrate. Fig. 4. Product SEM images obtained in

Fig. 4. Product SEM images obtained in conventional and oil agglomeration flotation.

6.9 kg/t and then it does not change reasonably at higher amounts. On the other hand, too high concentration of bridging oil in the solution would reduce the grade of final concentrate. Considering the recovery and grade relationship for molybdenite, the suitable dosage of bridging oil was determined at 12–14 kg/t (first rougher is 10–12 kg/t and second rougher 2 kg/t). In the agglomeration system, the length of carbon chain, kine- matic viscosity and cycloalkane structure would make it easy to form compact funicular aggregates, i.e. with larger amounts of oil, funicular bridging occurs and more compact aggregates are formed ( Drzymala et al., 1986 ). The fundamental ingredient of ker- osene and diesel is n -alkanes, but transformer oil is naphthenic ( Table 3 ). The transformer oil droplet can catch more fine molybde- nite particles and shows the best recovery among the three oils. In addition, it can be found that the average particle size of concen- trate using transformer oil as bridging agent was the lowest ( Fig. 3 e). According to the concept of the critical surface tension of wet- ting, as developed by Zisman and co-workers, the solid or mineral surface is completely wetted by the liquid if the surface tension of liquid is equal to or less than the critical surface tension of the wet-

ting value of solid or mineral surfaces ( Cebeci and Sönmez, 2004a; Ozkan et al., 2005 ). The critical surface tension of wetting for molybdenite is about 42 mN/m ( Kelebek, 1988; Ozcan, 1992 ). All of the above-mentioned oils’ has surface tensions below this level. Therefore, during OAF the molybdenite particles tend to be drawn into the oil phase. As suggested by Cebeci and Sönmez (2004a), the decisive rules could not put down as evidence of agglomeration success with the critical surface tension of the wetting value as in the flotation, because there are different liquids such as water and oil (bridging reagent) in the agglomeration system. If simply depends on the surface tension of wetting liquid, it is difficult to decide which is the best bridging oil in agglomeration flotation. The effect of transformer oil amount on the average size of col- lected molybdenite particles ( d 50 p ), average size of agglomerates ( d 50 a ) and flotation recoveries is expressed in Fig. 5 . The mean size of agglomerates ( d 50 a ) increased from 0.15 to 0.68 mm when the dosage of oil increased from 2.0 to 13.8 kg/t ( Fig. 5 ). At the same time, the mean diameter of collected molyb- denite particles ( d 50 p ) decreased from 9.06 to 2.05 l m with the in- crease of the transformer oil amount. The size of agglomerate is not altered with the size of particles. The size of agglomerate can

F. Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139

137

et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139 137 Fig. 5. Relationships among oil amount, d

Fig. 5. Relationships among oil amount, d p

50 , d a

50 and flotation recovery.

not be fully represented by the dry sieve analysis result, but the re- sult should be consistent with statistical laws in the parallel test. Accordingly, it can be conjectured the bigger the d 50 a , the smaller the d 50 p , and the higher the molybdenum recovery. And it can be ex- plained based on the surface area of small molybdenite particles, which are wetted by the transformer oil, and make aggregates.

3.3. Operating conditions of oil agglomeration flotation

There are many factors affecting the OAF process, and the major ones are different oil types and dosages, frother dosages, pH, stir- ring time and intensity. These operating conditions were tested as follows. Transformer oil was used as bridging reagent with a dosage at 14 kg/t (first-stage rougher 12 kg/t and second-stage rougher 2 kg/t), stirring speed is fixed at 800 r/min and stirring time at 5 min. The effect of pine oil amount on OAF was carried out as the flowchart given in Fig. 1 , and the results are shown in Fig. 6 . There are slight effects on the recovery of rougher concentrate when the amount of pine oil increases from 0.30 to 0.75 kg/t, but it plays an important role in the result, i.e. recovery and grade of final concentrate ( Fig. 6 ). The concentrate recovery increases from 79.94% to 85.44% and then to 86.03% when the amount of pine oil increases from 0.30 to 0.50 and then to 0.75 kg/t. At the same time, the grade of the concentrate decreases from 38.21 to 35.84 and then sharply to 16.34%. Hence, 0.5 kg/t pine oil is considered as the proper amount for the flotation separation process.

Pulp pH values can be adjusted from 6.2 to 10.3 by adding cal- cium oxide from 0 to 1.5 kg/t. The effect of pulp pH values on the OAF is presented in Fig. 7 . The figure shows that the recovery of molybdenum is slightly affected by pH, whereas the grade shows a downtrend and gradually decreases from 35.81% to 15.22% with the pH increasing. During the test, it is found that the foaming abil- ity and viscidity of pulp are improved with the increase of pH value in alkaline solutions, which result in the increase of agglomerate yield and gradual decrease of grade. Therefore, OAF can be carried out at the pH near 6.2, which is the natural pH for tailing suspensions. At optional dosage, the effects of stirring time and agitation intensity were studied in the OAF process, and the experimental data are presented in Figs. 8 and 9 , respectively. For a short agglomeration time, the diameters of agglomerates are smaller because of insufficient oil dispersion and the collisions between particles. As the agglomeration time increased, larger agglomerates were obtained due to an increase of particle–particle, particle–microagglomerate, and microagglomerate–microagglom- erate contact ( Cebeci, 2003 ). With the increase of agglomerates size, more and more ultrafine molybdenites are collected to form large agglomerates. To provide dispersion of oil as fine droplets in the suspension, the oil agglomeration process requires higher stirring speed. When particle–particle collision speed was in- creased by increasing the agitation intensity, agglomerates of a much tighter structure were formed. However, a too higher stirring speed, partial destruction of agglomerates happened by shear forces and collisions of agglomerates to cell walls and to each other ( Sönmez and Cebeci, 2003a ). The experimental results indicate that the desired particles can be selectively agglomerated and removed from the slurry under appropriate physico-chemical conditions, i.e. 3 min stirring time with stirring intensity at 400–600 r/min is suf- ficient for recovering molybdenite from ultrafine waste tailings by oil agglomerate flotation.

4. Locked cycle test and industrial application of oil agglomeration flotation

A locked cycle OAF test, with the flowsheet of one-stage rough- er, one-stage scavenger, four-stage cleaner and middlings return to the former cleaner, has been conducted to assess beneficiation per- formance under simulated continuous operating condition. On this basis, the industrial experiment producing 500 t/d molybdenite was carried out at the spot of tailings reservoir. Results of labora- tory locked cycle test and normal production indices are summa- rized in Table 4 . As seen from Table 4 , in normal production processes of agglomeration flotation, 95% molybdenum is recovered into the froth products (concentrate) with a molybdenum grade at 22.62%, and only 5% molybdenum still lost in secondary tailings.

and only 5% molybdenum still lost in secondary tailings. Fig. 6. The effect of amount of

Fig. 6. The effect of amount of pine oil on oil agglomeration flotation.

effect of amount of pine oil on oil agglomeration flotation. Fig. 7. The effect of pH

Fig. 7. The effect of pH on oil agglomeration flotation.

138

F. Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139

Jiangang et al. / Minerals Engineering 39 (2012) 133–139 Fig. 8. The effect of agglomeration time

Fig. 8. The effect of agglomeration time on oil agglomeration flotation.

of agglomeration time on oil agglomeration flotation. Fig. 9. The effect of stirring intensity on oil

Fig. 9. The effect of stirring intensity on oil agglomeration flotation.

size. While the average particle size of OAF concentrate is less than

5.92 l m, and the products have ultrafine compact layered molyb-

denite structure, so OAF has some advantages to recovering fine minerals. The molybdenite tailings can be successfully agglomerated with kerosene, diesel, transformer oil or rapeseed oil, but rapeseed oil shows little effect on increasing the recovery of molybdenum, due to the fact that rapeseed oil is an unsaturated fatty acid, which is also the gangue collector. When rapeseed oil is used as the bridg- ing oil, most of the surface of agglomerates is occupied by unde- sired particles. The best result is obtained from transformer oil because its length of carbon chain, kinematic viscosity and cycloal- kane structure are all in favorable conditions. The average particle size of agglomeration concentrate using transformer oil as bridging oil is the lowest one, 2.05 l m.

The oils amount plays a very important role on the average size of collected particles ( d p 50 ), average size of agglomerates ( d 50 a ) and flota- tion recoveries. With the increase of transformer oil from 2.0 to

kg/t, d a 50 increases from 0.15 to 0.68 mm and d 50 p decreases from

9.06

13.8

to 2.05 l m. Accordingly, it can be conjectured the bigger the d a

50 ,

the smaller the d 50 p , and the higher the molybdenum recovery. There are many factors affecting the OAF process, and the dos- age of 0.5 kg/t frother, natural pH and stirring time of 3 min, stir-

ring intensity of 400–600 r/min are considered as the appropriate conditions. Practice has proven that OAF process can be considered as a remarkable improvement technology in recovery of ultrafine molybdenite from waste tailings. Lastly, the locked cycle test and industrial experiment in the producing scale of 500 t/d have been carried out, in normal production processes, 95% molybdenum is recovered with a satisfied grade of 22.62%.

Table 4 Results of locked cycle test and industrial application of oil agglomeration flotation.

Items

Products

Yield

Mo grade

Mo recovery

 

(%)

(%)

(%)

Laboratory locked

Concentrates

3.05

31.17

91

cycle test

Secondary

96.95

0.093

9

tailings

Original

100.00

1.04

100

tailings

Industrial application

Concentrates

4.39 22.62

95

Secondary

95.61

0.056

5

tailings

Original

100.00

1.05

100

tailings

The molybdenum grade in the final tailings is 0.056%, which is far lower than the feed that is 1.05%. It deserves to be specially noted that the reason for concentrate grade of industrial production is less than that of laboratory test lies in the economic balance con- sideration, because recovery is more pragmatic than the grade in accordance with the market price. In summary, industrial scale experiment proves that OAF process is a remarkable recycled tech- nology in recovery of ultrafine molybdenite from waste tailings.

5. Conclusions

In the process of recovering molybdenite from waste tailings, conventional flotation cannot be considered as an effective meth- od, and the most important reason lies on the fact that the mean diameter of the tailings is 10.99 l m and the particles below 38 l m contain 90.67% molybdenum. It is indicated from the exper- imental data that conventional flotation froth cannot catch the ultrafine molybdenite particles, and the mean particle size of froth concentrate is 10.52 l m, which is close to the raw tailing’s particle

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the Key Laboratory of Resources Chemistry of Nonferrous Metals, Ministry of Education (Central South University) for the laboratories and financial support, and

we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the anony- mous reviewers for their insightful comments, which have greatly

aided us in improving the quality of the paper.

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