O’Connor, C., Wiese, J., Corin, K. et al. Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2019) 36: 55. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-018-0026-6
As orebodies being mined globally are of ever-decreasing grades, the focus on the concentration process has moved increasingly to the challenges faced in management of the gangue minerals. This is especially so in the flotation of platinum group minerals (PGMs), where head grades are typically in the region of 4–7 g/t. Hence, in PGM operations, a typical recovery of about 80 percent requires depressing about 85 percent of the gangue minerals. In a flotation cell the main control parameters are reagent type and dosage, froth depth and air addition rate. This paper reviews research projects carried out over an extended period aimed at optimizing the depression of gangue minerals: both those that are naturally floatable and those, such as chromite, that are entrained. This has involved comparing the two major depressants used in the industry — guar and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) — in the depression of the relevant gangue minerals, as well as investigating their consequent effect on the behavior of the froth phase. Because most PGM flotation plants treat the ore as if all the PGMs are associated with sulfides, copper sulfate is widely used as an activator, but this can also lead to inadvertent activation of gangue minerals. Finally, chromite levels must be kept below 3–5 percent to avoid any negative effects on smelter performance, and thus it is important to reduce chromite recovery which mainly occurs due to entrainment through, for example, froth depth control.