Eriez Recovery Technology, including the patented HydroFloat technology from the Eriez Flotation Division (EFD), is being tested in a pilot plant jointly with Rio Tinto to evaluate the possibility of improving metals recovery from its Rio Tinto Kennecott Copper (RTKC) operation at the Bingham Canyon mine near Salt Lake City, Utah.

“RTKC’s innovation and development portfolio has included projects to benefit ore throughput and value recovery,” said David George-Kennedy, former director of the RTKC Innovation and Development Group. “HydroFloat is a technology that has been successfully deployed at commercial scale in the phosphate and potash industries for more than a decade. We think the concept has tremendous potential for RTKC.”

EFD and the RTKC Innovation and Development Group have jointly investigated the applicability of the HydroFloat technology to ore containing valuable minerals that are not recovered conventionally at the RTKC Copperton Concentrator. A study supported by a pilot facility supports the case that the HydroFloat is recovering up to 70% of coarse particle copper and up to 90% of coarse particle moly that is not collected by conventional flotation technology.

As the second-largest copper producer in the United States, RTKC provides nearly a quarter of the country’s copper. Throughout its history, the Bingham Canyon mine has produced more copper than any other U.S. mine — more than 19 million tons, according to RTKC. Before testing the HydroFloat, RTKC was losing 10% of copper and 16% of moly to waste.

The HydroFloat Separator is an aerated fluidized-bed (or teeter-bed) separator. The synergistic effect of combining flotation with gravity concentration results in an outcome that cannot be achieved by either approach alone. Air bubbles, which are dispersed by the fluidization system, percolate through the hindered-setting zone and attach to the hydrophobic component, altering its density and rendering it sufficiently buoyant to float and be recovered. The use of a dense phase, fluidized bed eliminates axial mixing, increases coarse particle residence time and improves flotation rate through enhanced bubble-particle interactions. As a result, the recovery rate is high for fully liberated and semiliberated particles.

Formerly known as Canadian Process Technologies Inc., EFD is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eriez Manufacturing Co. EFD provides advanced testing and engineering services, in addition to sparging and column flotation equipment for the mining and mineral processing industries.