Froth flotation is a process that has gained popularity in the mining industry for its use in separating pure minerals different kinds of ores including sulfides and carbonates. This selective separation through froth floatation is a highly complex process, which require the application of mining reagents, also known as mining collectors to make such a mining process feasible on the terms of monetary costs.
Owing to the constant extraction of ores from high quality reserves around the world, the mining sector has reached a stage of significantly reduced productivity and extraction. As a result a rapidly growing demand for mining collectors for exaction of minerals from ores that have a lower mineral content is expected to climb in the years to come.
Hazardous Nature of Mining Collectors Generates Demand for Safe Alternatives
To counter the problem of reduced mineral reserves for mining and the low quality of such ore, the mining sector is increasingly emphasizing on the extraction of ores from mineral reserves that lie at deeper levels of the earth, which adds extra costs and complexity to the logistics of such operations. Owing to such complexity and prohibitive costs in such mining operations, there is an increasing requirement for mining collector chemicals to process ores and extract minerals from low quality sources. The use of mining collectors have been observed to improve on the efficiency of the overall extraction process by a significant amount.
Collectors provide businesses involved in mining with an economically feasible method of extracting minerals. A key challenge for most producers of mining collectors is that, xanthates, the most commonly used variant of mining collectors are widely considered to be toxic, hazardous, and combustible in nature, which generates extra costs for safe transportation, storage, and handling procedures, among others.
As a result, in recent times, mining collector manufacturers have emphasized on developing safer alternatives that are easier to use and have a more stable nature in comparison to other conventional variants, therefore limiting the growth of conventional mining collector producers worldwide.
For example, magnafloc which is made from ionic or cationic polyacrilamide polymers is gaining popularity as a safer alternative to xanthates owing to its non-toxic nature and low risk of bio accumulation. However, this mining collector faces challenges of causing environmental pollution owing to its very low rate of biodegradation.
Customizable Mining Collectors to Gain Importance
Another key trend that has been observed in the global mining collectors sector is that producers are working on being able to provide customizable collectors, for optimal mineral extraction on the terms of the specific ore grades. Therefore, producers are increasingly making use of strategies involving the development of customized product offerings made accurately for stringent standards to achieve an edge over competitors.
For example, Akzonobel has created customized mining collector solutions for extracting potash from sources such as coarse sylvite, where mineral recovery becomes difficult at higher temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. These issues were solved by designing experimental solutions to measure the effect of temperature on mineral recovery and to analyze how various types of amine blends can stabilize the floatation mixture. As a result, the company generated a new formulation that enabled a noticeable improvement of mineral recovery by 4 to 5 per cent at temperatures nearing 35°C.
Moreover, to enhance the power of the flotation process and create successful flotation results at temperatures below 15˚C, akzonobel proposed the use of anionic boosters for addition into fatty acid reserves in the procedure. On further study, it was found that the inclusion of the anionic booster eliminated the requirement for heating the floatation mixture and also reduced the amount of mining collectors required in the process by approximately 25 percent and improved the recovery of pure minerals by more than one per cent. Through the consistent use of the anionic booster for the long term, the dosage of mining collector blends was maintained at a stable rate with consistent improvements in mineral recovery.
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