Metals extracted from the Earth are of utmost importance for the manufacturing of everyday products. However, their increased production puts a heavy burden on the environment. This is because once excavation of minerals is done, a wide range of chemicals is needed to process them. The whole process results in significant harm to nature. Thus, mining industries have been under immense pressure to develop more environment viable practices for the past decade. Simultaneously, they are also required to enhance their productivity as the need for raw material has increased with population growth while mineral reserves are depleting continuously. So, it is important to find a solution where both these objectives are not in conflict with each other.
To tackle this problem, a research team has developed a new cellulose compound that would make the excavation process more environmentally friendly. This a ground shattering advancement for Base Metal Mining Market as the newly developed method is renewable, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Moreover, as per research, it is also more effective in separating metals than oil-based commercial frothers that are in use presently.
The team’s primary objective was to find a more sustainable alternative to this approach. This is because the chemical technology used in froth floatation (the process through which metals are parted from ores) has stayed the same through the decades. To achieve this goal, they carefully explored cellulose derivatives which comprised of characteristics suitable for frothers. In the first laboratory experiments, they discovered that a new compound could produce more minerals than any conventional methods.
The floatation process refers to a process wherein air bubbles are formed in a mixture of water, crushed ores, and other chemicals. The metal-bearing minerals select the bubbles and attach themselves to them, thus forming froth on the surface from which they are collected. Frothers are responsible for controlling the stability and formation of air bubbles. The team discovered that cellulose-based compound has several advantages over the frothers that are currently in use. The combination can augment the number of minerals recovered by simply accelerating the flotation process. In addition, it also works efficiently in a vast range of pH conditions, thus, making it less sensitive to the changes that occur in process conditions.
The new technology can offer high productivity in mineral processing plants while being manufactured on an industrial scale. Further, it could also result in decreasing other chemical usages. Also, it can handle waste streams with low contents of valuable minerals. Therefore, in the new future, when mineral resources deplete, the mining processing industry could still process large amounts of low-quality ores so as to keep up with the market demand.
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