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New technology for recovering valuable minerals from waste rock

Date:
September 15, 2011
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Researchers report discovery of a completely new technology for more efficiently separating gold, silver, copper, and other valuable materials from rock and ore. The process uses nanoparticles to latch onto those materials and attach them to air bubbles in a flotation machine.

Researchers report discovery of a completely new technology for more efficiently separating gold, silver, copper, and other valuable materials from rock and ore. Their report on the process, which uses nanoparticles to latch onto those materials and attach them to air bubbles in a flotation machine, appears in the ACS journal Langmuir.

Robert Pelton and colleagues explain that companies use a technique termed froth flotation to process about 450 million tons of minerals each year. The process involves crushing the minerals into small particles, and then floating the particles in water to separate the commercially valuable particles from the waste rock. The water contains "collector" substances that can attach to the valuable particles, causing them to repel water and rise to the bubbling top of the water where they can be easily skimmed off.

The researchers demonstrated an entirely new type of collector technology, consisting of water-repelling nanoparticles. In laboratory experiments using glass beads to simulate actual mineral particles, they showed that the nanoparticles attached so firmly to the beads that flotation produced a recover rate of almost 100 per cent.

The authors acknowledge funding from the Centre for Materials and Manufacturing and VALE Base Metals.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. Songtao Yang, Robert Pelton, Adam Raegen, Miles Montgomery, Kari Dalnoki-Veress. Nanoparticle Flotation Collectors: Mechanisms Behind a New Technology. Langmuir, 2011; 27 (17): 10438 DOI: 10.1021/la2016534
  2. Songtao Yang, Robert Pelton. Nanoparticle Flotation Collectors II: The Role of Nanoparticle Hydrophobicity. Langmuir, 2011; 27 (18): 11409 DOI: 10.1021/la202751y

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "New technology for recovering valuable minerals from waste rock." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914115836.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2011, September 15). New technology for recovering valuable minerals from waste rock. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914115836.htm
American Chemical Society. "New technology for recovering valuable minerals from waste rock." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110914115836.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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