January 2019
Volume 71    Issue 1

Flotation in seawater

Laskowski, J.S.; Castro, S,; Gutierrez, L.


Full-text paper:
Laskowski, J.S., Castro, S. & Gutierrez, L. Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (2019) 36: 89. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42461-018-0018-6

Water is a medium in which flotation takes place, and flotation efficiency is highly dependent on water quality. Of the total water resources on Earth, less than 2.5 percent is fresh water. This water is used in agriculture, by households and by industry. Among the industrial users of fresh water, the mining industry occupies an important position. Furthermore, mining operations are often located in arid areas with very limited access to fresh water. The demand for and shortage of water in these parts of the world, such as the Atacama Desert in Chile, makes the use of seawater by the mining industry the only sustainable solution. 

   As water circuits in flotation plants are now closed and process water is reused, the process  water — even if a plant is supplied with fresh water — becomes finally a highly concentrated electrolyte solution. If we simplify and treat seawater as 0.6 M sodium chloride (NaCl) solution that also contains 1.3 g/L of magnesium ions (Mg2+) and 0.4 g/L of calcium ions (Ca2+), then these two cases are not that different. The general question that arises is then how the ionic strength of the process water affects flotation. The progress that has been made in this area is reviewed in the paper, and based on this information an attempt is being made at classifying the flotation operations carried out in highly concentrated electrolyte process waters.


Follow these easy steps if you are an SME member:
  • Go to www.smenet.org/login . Sign in with your email address and password.
  • Hover your mouse over “Publications and Resources” in the top banner. Click on “Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration (MME) Journal” in the pull-down menu.
  • Scroll down and click on the “Read the MME Journal Online” button, which will take you to the Springer site as an SME member who is eligible for free access. (To see published papers on the Springer site, click on “Browse Volumes & Issues” in the blue banner.)
If you are not an SME member, go to https://www.springer.com/engineering/journal/42461 for paid access. Or join SME at www.smenet.org/join