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IMPACT OF HYDRODYNAMIC FLOTATION FACTORS ON SILVER AND LEAD RECOVERY AT MINERA FRESNILLO

Por: Ing. J. Omar Godínez Reveles e Ing. Mario L. Franco Soto, Flottec México Ing. Juan J. Anes Rojas, Flottec LLC, y Ing. Adrián Tolentino Licona, Minera Fresnillo.


Abstract

Flotation hydrodynamics theories have been developed for about 15 years at plant and laboratory level; however, few professionals in the world are using this knowledge to control their plants. This paper shows a practical application of the hydrodynamic flotation tools developed by Flottec, McGill, and other researchers, showing the utility of hydrodynamics associated with operational practices, which was worked in conjunction with a plant-level design of experiments (DOE).

Minera Fresnillo, one of the world's leading silver producing plants, has decided to be the first Champions to apply these concepts at plant level and to allocate resources to continue this work in the coming stages. 

This study aimed to create a preliminary process control tool at the level of the first cell of primary flotation in the lead circuit, to be expanded to the entire plant in the future. This allowed mathematical equations to be determined, describing the relationships between process and hydrodynamic variables to increase silver recovery while decreasing the insoluble content of the concentrate.

The research was conducted using experiment designs with three variables (foam level, foam addition in ppm, and airflow in cm/s) to observe changes in silver and lead recovery by size classes. 

Applying Six Sigma knowledge, it is shown that the grade of silver concentrate and recovery in the first cell of the primary lead flotation bank is influenced by gas retention in the pulp (Eg), gas surface velocity (Jg), foam level, spill rate and feed grade. Bubble diameter and gas surface velocity were estimated from equations in the literature and proved to be capable of modulating system response variables. 

The work has been completed in its initial phase and has led to further research, including the testing of new control equations at plant level and finding a foaming agent more suited to the dynamics of Fresnillo operations, which allows increasing the amount of gas retained in the pulp while providing foam that can collect coarse and fine particles.



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