Mineral processing wastewater contains large amounts of reagents which can lead to severe environmental problems, such as high chemical oxygen demand (COD). Inspired by the wastewater treatment in such industries as those of textiles, food, and petrochemistry, in the present work, electrocoagulation (EC) is applied for the first time to explore its feasibility in the treatment of wastewater with an initial COD of 424.29 mg/L from a Pb/Zn sulfide mineral flotation plant and its effect on water reuse. Typical parameters, such as anode materials, current density, initial pH, and additives, were characterized to evaluate the performance of the EC method. The results showed that, under optimal conditions, i.e., iron anode, pH 7.1, electrolysis time 70 min, 19.23 mA/cm2
current density, and 4.1 g/L activated carbon, the initial COD can be reduced to 72.9 mg/L, corresponding to a removal rate of 82.8%. In addition, compared with the untreated wastewater, EC-treated wastewater was found to benefit the recovery of galena and sphalerite, with galena recovery increasing from 25.01% to 36.06% and sphalerite recovery increasing from 59.99% to 65.33%. This study confirmed that EC is a promising method for the treatment and reuse of high-COD-containing wastewater in the mining industry, and it possesses great potential for wide industrial applications.
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