Heterocoagulation between various fine mineral particles contained within a mineral suspension with different structural and surface chemistry can interfere with the ability of the flotation processes to selectively separate the minerals involved. This paper examines the interactions between chalcopyrite (a copper mineral) and pyrite (an iron mineral often bearing gold) as they approach each other in suspensions with added chemicals, and relates the results to the experimental data for the flotation recovery and selectivity. The heterocoagulation was experimentally studied using the electrophoretic light scattering (ELS) technique and was modelled by incorporating colloidal forces, including the van der Waals, electrostatic double layer and hydrophobic forces. The ELS results indicated that pyrite has a positive zeta potential () up to its isoelectric point (IEP) at similar to pH 2.2, while chalcopyrite has a positive up to its IEP at similar to pH 5.5. This produces heterocoagulation of chalcopyrite with pyrite between PH 2.2 and pH 5.5. The heterocoagulation was confirmed by the ELS spectra measured with a ZetaPlus instrument from Brookhaven and by small-scale flotation experiments.
Advances in Colloid and Interface Science Vol. 114-115, p. 227-237