Water chemistry is one of the most important parameters affecting flotation performance. Various types of ions can dissolve and accumulate in process water depending on ore mineralogy, reagent scheme, grinding medium and chemistry of mine site water. Sulfur-based ions (sulfate, thiosulfate, polythionate) are generally observed in flotation of sulfide ores. High concentrations of these ions may reduce efficiency of the flotation process, causing scale problems. Removal of these ions from process water often requires complex water treatment plants with high capital and operating costs. In this study, partial cleaning of water was investigated as an alternative approach for decreasing high sulphate concentrations of 3000–3800 mg/L down to 1000–1500 mg/L, an acceptable concentration for most sulfide ore flotation plants, by using an ion-exchange resin. For this purpose, detailed adsorption tests were performed using a laboratory-scale column system to determine the most suitable type of resin for adsorption of sulfate and thiosalts, kinetics of adsorption and regeneration of the resins. A strong base anion ion exchange resin (Selion SBA2000) was used in the experiments. The findings from the laboratory scale studies were validated in a Cu-Pb-Zn Flotation Plant in an Iberian mine using a larger scale of column set-up. The results showed that 60–70% of sulphates could be successfully removed from process water. Adsorption capacity of the resin was determined as 80.3 mg SO4
/g resin. Concentrations of thiosalts and polythionates were also reduced to nearly zero value from 500 mg/L and 1000 mg/L, respectively. Flowrate of water had a significant effect on adsorption performance. The resin could be regenerated successfully using 2% (w
) NaOH solution and used multiple times for water treatment.
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