Contact angle study on the activation mechanisms of sphalerite with Cu(II) and Pb(II)
Keywords:Sphalerite, Copper activation, Lead activation, Flotation, Contact angle
This article presents results of an experimental study on the sphalerite activation with Cu(II) and Pb(II), whose main objective was to investigate the activation mechanisms and to evaluate the magnitude of the hydrophobization achieved with both chemical species. The hydrophobicity acquired by the mineral due to the interaction with the activator and collector (sodium isopropyl xanthate) is characterized making use of the contact angle technique. The results show that Cu(II) replaces the Zn of the external layers of the mineral, promoting the sulfide (S2–) oxidation to produce a mixture of CuS, Cu2S and S°, of hydrophobic nature. The subsequent interaction with xanthate increases the hydrophobicity of the mineral surface. In turn, Pb(II) activation of sphalerite is due to the formation of a PbS layer that reacts with xanthate to produce hydrophobic species (e.g., PbX2). It is also observed that the hydrophobicity of sphalerite activated with Pb(II) is favored under air atmospheres, as compared to that obtained under nitrogen atmospheres. It is concluded that the hydrophobicity achieved by lead activation may be of the same order of magnitude to that deliverately induced by copper activation.
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