MSc (Eng) Project title An integrated approach for mitigating the acid rock drainage (ARD) associated with pyrrhotite in nickel deposits
(Supervisors: Dr. M Becker, Dr JL Broadhurst Graduated: 2012
The non-stoichiometric sulfide mineral pyrrhotite (Fe1-xS) occurs almost ubiquitously inter-grown with the principal nickel mineral, pentlandite ((Fe,Ni)9S8). During Ni processing, pyrrhotite is generally rejected to the tailings stream by flotation to produce a low tonnage, high grade (Ni) smelter feed and reduce SO2 emissions. In this study, the effect of different pyrrhotite flotation rejection strategies (artificial oxidation and TETA: SMBS addition) were evaluated on a magnetic (Ore A) and non-magnetic (Ore B) pyrrhotite ore to determine if either may effectively depress and potentially passivate the pyrrhotite surface during flotation to produce benign tailings without compromising pentlandite recovery.
For both ores, the best pyrrhotite rejection (pentlandite/pyrrhotite recovery) was obtained using TETA: SMBS. Differences in the flotation performance of the two ores are considered more a function of BMS content, liberation and ore handling rather than a difference in sulfide passivation from the inherent pyrrhotite mineralogy (magnetic vs non-magnetic pyrrhotite). Although treatment of the pyrrhotite tailings initially showed a decrease in the acid producing potential of the samples indicating possible passivation of the mineral surface, sequential NAG and biokinetic tests showed that treated tailings remained acid producing.
Chimbganda, T. 2012. An integrated approach for mitigating the acid rock drainage (ARD) associated with pyrrhotite in nickel deposits. Masters dissertation, University of Cape Town.
Peer-reviewed journal publications
Chimbganda, T., Becker, M.E., Broadhurst, J.L., Harrison, S.T.L. and Franzidis, J.-P. 2013. A comparison of pyrrhotite rejection and passivation in two nickel ores. Minerals Engineering, 46-47: 38-44.
Oral conference presentations
Chimbganda T., Becker M., Broadhurst J.L., Harrison S.T.L. and Franzidis J-P. 2011. Pyrrhotite depression at Nkomati nickel and its potential environmental implications. Flotation ’11, Cape Town, 14-17 November, 2011