Froth Flotation

Literature: Flotation is the most versatile mineral processing technique that has made it possible to mine most low grade & complex ore bodies that would have been regarded as uneconomic. Though complex and not completely understood, flotation has been used to achieve specific separations from complex ores like Pb-Zn-Cu, Pb-Zn & Cu-Zn etc. Initially developed for sulphide ores, flotation has now expanded to include oxides like haematite & casseterite, oxidised minerals like malachite & cerrusite and non-metallic ores like fluorite, phosphates and fine coal among other things.

Sulphide Flotation Capabilities

Suntech prides itself for having extensive knowledge in sulphide flotation of PGMs, Base metals as well as Gold & Silver from ores of varying mineralogy i.e. clean & fresh, tarnished as well as partially oxidised. The laboratory has earned the reputation as the preferred centre for flotation test work for circuit flowsheet development, metallurgical projections and troubleshooting.

Non-sulphide & Oxide Flotation

Over the years, Suntech has acquired extensive knowledge and experience in the flotation of non-sulphide minerals with special emphasis of Graphite, Calcium fluoride (CaF₂), Sn, TREO (Rare earths minerals) & Apatite among others. The laboratory has completed test work for these successfully developing suitable reagents suites and/or conditions for separating CaF₂ from apatite and upgrading apatite from carbonatite ores. The laboratory has also successfully depressed As and Fe oxides during flotation of CaF₂ producing a premium concentrate with a As levels below 4ppm and Fe levels below 0.4%.

Floth Floatation2

To date the laboratory has gained recognition as the centre for excellence in flotation testing for:

  • Reagent scouting/selection test work
  • Flow sheet and circuit development flotation tests
  • Kinetic rougher and cleaner flotation testing
  • Metallurgical projection (locked cycle) flotation tests
  • Column and variability flotation tests among others

Sequence of testing

Most of our flotation testing methods are standardised to ensure repeatability; we carry out test work in a step by step approach wherein use is made of the results from the preceding phase of work to build on the strategies for the next phase of the testing. In most cases, our test programs start with reagent scouting and ends with piloting and process design.


Reagent scouting › Flow sheet development › Piloting & process design'


Reagent scouting test work: Done mostly on greenfields projects to investigate the effectiveness of a selection and/or a combination of different reagent suites in achieving optimum metallurgy in terms of mineral upgrading and recovery and to select the best suite for further testing and/or application.

Flow sheet development test work: Using the best reagent suite, grind and reagents etc., the effectiveness of different circuits will be tested so as to select the finest option that produces the best results at the lowest operating cost and with the least quantity of equipment and/or shortest circuit possible.

Metallurgical projection tests: Locked cycle and pilot plant testing form part of our testing programs; results from these tests enable projection of the basic performance of selected flow sheets and to review the impact of recycling streams as well as that of impurity build-ups on the overall metallurgical performance of the mineral/metal in question. The laboratory uses computer based simulations and/or statistical tools to analyse the data generated from these tests to develop mass balances and projected metallurgical performances. This information enables the metallurgist to complete an accurate economical evaluation of the project and to evaluate the trade-offs between upfront CAPEX, OPEX and flexibility.

Deliverables from testing

The basic deliverables from the various categories of flotation test work include but are not limited to the following:

Reagent scouting test work – The most suitable reagent suite and/or flotation conditions for optimal recovery and upgrading of the target minerals,

Flow sheet development test work: The basic flow sheet for recovery and upgrading of the target minerals,

Metallurgical projection tests: The projected metallurgical performance of the ore samples at industrial scale,

Metallurgical Reports: Suntech provides clients with update reports while a final technical report is issued at the end of the test work explaining all the procedures and results obtained.

Processing Techniques

  • Sulphide Flotation Capabilities
  • Non-Sulphide & Oxide Flotation

Contact For Services

SA Region

+27 (0)11 433 4234

+27 (0)76 102 4182

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