Published: August 1986
Mining operations span a wide range from primary ore extraction (with explosives and/or leaching with solvents), through a sequence comprising comminution (with grinding aids) and ore enrichment (by froth flotation or hydrometallurgy, both of which entail reagents), to the final recovery of the valuable components. The use of chemicals also extends to functions such as storage, handling, and transportation. This report emphasizes chemical reagents used in froth flotation. Excluding explosives, reagents for froth flotation represent the mining industry's largest use of chemicals (in volume and in value). The principal categories of reagents for this purpose are collectors, frothers, and flocculants.
We have evaluated the production technologies and economics of the predominant species in each of these categories. These include xanthates (collectors for sulfide ores), fatty acids and fatty amines (collectors for nonsulfide ores), methyl isobutyl carbinol (workhorse among frothers for sulfide ores and coal), and polyacrylamides (the major synthetic compounds which have been replacing natural materials such as starch and guar gum for flocculation and/or dewatering).
The report also presents technical background on the use of chemicals by the mining industry in general and a survey of the industry status of chemicals used in froth flotation in particular.