Increasing final concentrate grade of the Sarcheshmaeh Copper Complex floatation circuit by flowsheet modification

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Mineral Processing Group, Vali-e-Asr University of Rafsanjan, Rafsanjan, Iran

2 Kashigar Mineral Processing Research Center, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran

3 Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, Rafsanjan, Iran

4 Mining Engineering Department, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, Iran


The Sarcheshmeh copper complex flotation circuit of plant No.1 consists of two identical north and south sections where each includes four rougher (each bank consists of 14 cells), two cleaners (each bank consists of 8 cells), two recleaners (each bank consists of 2 cells), and two scavenger banks (each bank consists of 10 cells). The reduction of feed grade along with a change in the mineralogical composition is the main reason of current lower concentrate grade (24%) compared with the design concentrate grade (32%). Because of a lower feed grade, the amount of rougher concentrate has decreased which in turn has significantly reduced the feed rate to the cleaner, recleaner, and scavenger banks. This has increased the mean residence time of the material in the cleaner section resulting in a lower final concentrate grade. A laboratory study showed that the final concentrate grade can be increased by 2-4% if one cleaner stage is added to the flotation circuit. In this research, based on the laboratory results, one cleaning stage was added to the current flotation circuit. In order to make this modification instrumentally possible in the plant, the final concentrate was gravity transported to the Mo-Cu thickeners. This released two pumps and associated tanks which made the addition of one cleaning stage practicable. Finally, a part of the cleaner and scavenger cells was used as the third cleaning stage. This decreased the residence time in the cleaner and scavenger banks. After implementation of one cleaning stage in the south section of the plant, the performance of the circuit compared with the identical north section. It was found that at the same recovery, the concentrate grade of the south section increased by 2.5%. The promising results led to the implementation of adding one cleaning stage in all sections of the flotation circuit.


[1] Wills B. A. and Finch J. A., "Chapter 12 - Froth Flotation," in Wills' Mineral Processing Technology (Eighth Edition) , B. A. Wills and J. A. Finch Eds. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2016, pp. 265-380.
[2] Radmehr Vahid, Shafaei Sied Z, Noaparast Mohammad, and Abdollahi Hadi, "Optimizing Flotation Circuit Recovery by Effective Stage Arrangements: A Case Study," Minerals, no. 8(10), pp. 1-14, 2018, DOI:
[3] Ghobadi P., Yahyaei M., and Banisi S., "Optimization of the performance of flotation circuits using a genetic algorithm oriented by process-based rules," International Journal of Mineral Processing, vol. 98, no. 3, pp. 174-181, 2011/03/09/ 2011, DOI:
[4] Banisi S., Kargar A., Pourkani M., Sarvi M., and Hamidi D., "Recent changes at the Sarcheshmeh copper mine flotation circuit," presented at the 33 rd Annual Canadian Mineral Processors Operators Conference, Ottawa, Canada, January 23- 25, 2001.
[5] Banisi S., Sarvi M., Hamidi D., and Fazeli A., "Flotation circuit improvements at the Sarcheshmeh copper mine," Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy, vol. 112, pp. 198-206, 2003, DOI: 10.1179/037195503225003681.
[6] Hamidi D., "Optimization of reagent addition to rougher flotation cells of the Sarcheshmeh concentration plant," M.Eng. Thesis, Mining Engineering Department, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, 2001.
[7] Rajabi M.J., "Process auditing of the flotation circuit of the Sarcheshmeh copper complex," M.Eng. Thesis, Mining Engineering Department, Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman, Kerman, 2016.
[8] Poorkani M., "Investigation the possibility of increasing the copper grade of final concentrate of the Sarcheshmeh copper complex by adding a cleaner stage," R&D Section, Sarcheshmeh Copper Complex, 2014.
[9] AGAR G.E., "Optimizing the design of flotation circuits," CIM Bulletin, vol. 73, 824, pp. 173-181, 1989. [10] Sutherland D. N., "A study on the optimization of the arrangement of flotation circuits," International Journal of Mineral Processing, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 319-346, 1981/01/01/ 1981, DOI:
[11] Banerjee P. K., Gupta A. K., Mukherjee A. K., Das P., Singh N. P., and Singh R. S., "Optimization of Reagents Distribution Down a Coal Flotation Bank to Improve the Recovery of Coarser Particles," Coal Preparation, vol. 27, no. 1-3, pp. 39-56, 2007/06/06 2007, DOI: 10.1080/07349340701249711.
[12] Bulatovic S. M., "12 - Flotation of Copper Sulfide Ores," in Handbook of Flotation Reagents , S. M. Bulatovic Ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2007, pp. 235-293.
[13] Runge K.C., "Particle Size Distribution Effects that Should be Considered when Performing Flotation Geometallurgical Testing," presented at the second ausimm international geometallurgy conference, Carlton, VIC, Australia, 30 September-2 October 2013.
[14] Sao José F. and Pereira C., "Evaluation of Reagents Dispersing for Sphalerite and Galena Particles System," presented at the IMPC2014, Santiago, Chile, 20-24 October 2014, C1316.
[15] Tamara M., Valentin C., Tatiana I., and Nadezhda G., "New Reagent Modes for Selective Flotation of Gold-Sulfide Minerals from Refractory Ores," presented at the IMPC2012, New Delhi, India, 23-28 September 2012, 344.
[16] Vianna S., "The Effect of Particle Size, Collector Coverage, and Liberation on the Floatability of Galena Particles in an Ore,"Ph.D. Thesis., Juius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Center, Brisbane, 2004.
[17] Bazin C. and Proulx M., "Distribution of reagents down a flotation bank to improve the recovery of coarse particles," International Journal of Mineral Processing, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 1-12, 2001/01/01/ 2001, DOI:
[18] Fosu S., Pring A., Skinner W., and Zanin M., "Characterisation of coarse composite sphalerite particles with respect to flotation," Minerals Engineering, vol. 71, pp. 105-112, 2015/02/01/ 2015, DOI:
[19] Matveeva T.N., Chanturiya V.A., Ivanova T.A., and Gromova N.K., "New Reagent Modes for Flotation Recovery of Gold from Refractory," presented at the IMPC 2016, Quebec City, Canada, 11-15 September 2016.
[20] Mular M.A. and Veloo C., "Circuit Modifications at Westmin Resources Myra Falls Operations," presented at the Proceedings 24th Annual Meeting of the CMP, Canada, 1992, 26.
[21] Shannon L.K. and Trahar W.J., "The Role of Collector in Sulfide Ore Flotation," in Advances in mineral processing. Colorado: SME, 1986, pp. 408-425.
[22] Venter C. P.E. and Van Loggerenberg C., "Modifications to the coal-preparation circuit at the Grootegeluk Coal Mine to improve its efficiency," Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, vol. 92, pp. 53-61, Feb. 1992 1992.
[23] Yarahmadi M. and Banisi S., "Movazen: A mass balancing software," presented at the Chemical Engineering Congress of Iran, Tehran, 1998.