MSE Research Project Database

Flotation of fine valuable minerals through formation of small hydrophobic flocs

Project Leader: George Franks
Collaborators: Liza Forbes (University of Queensland)
Sponsors: ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals
Primary Contact: George Franks (
Keywords: mineral processing
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

This project involves developing reagents to produce hydrophobic aggregates which can be recovered by froth flotation to improve recovery of valuable fine minerals usually lost to tailings. This project features a highly innovative investigation into the selectivity that can be achieved using synthetic and bio-molecules as well as surfactants as flocculants and collectors. Polymers developed by our collaborators will be evaluated as flotation reagents based on the flocculation/flotation approach using polymers to selectively aggregate valuable fine particles. The approach is to produce aggregates that are both in the size range amenable to froth flotation and hydrophobic. The project will address issues such as entrapment and entrainment on the performance of flotation systems. The influence of different shear environments in different type of flotation cells, (columns, mechanical cells, reflux classifier) will be studies in order to understand if the aggregates can survive the shear in the flotation cell.  The results of the project will reduce the impact of mineral processing on the environment, improve the recovery of valuable mineral resources and reduce energy used in mineral processing. The implementation of the novel flocculants/collectors in flotation will improve the recovery of valuable mineral fines from Australia’s natural mineral resources. Prof George Franks is the primary supervisor. The project will involve some travel to the University of Queensland to work with Dr Liza Forbes.

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