Copper recovery through smelter slag flotation in Atacama, Chile : an industrial case study

04 Apr 2022

Copper slag flotation was studied on an industrial scale at a concentrator plant in the region of Atacama, Chile. This study consisted of the physical, chemical, and mineralogical characterization of the copper slag, along with preliminary flotation tests. This article focuses on industrial flotation, which consisted of two oneyear campaigns (2016 and 2017). The first campaign was carried out using an existing copper slag flotation circuit in the plant. During the second campaign (2017), a circuit for sulfide ore flotation with an additional columnar flotation cleaning stage was evaluated. Results showed an improvement in metallurgical parameters on the second campaign (including improvements in processing capacity, concentrate copper grade, and metallurgical recovery). From the industrial copper slag flotation campaigns, it was concluded that it is possible to obtain a commercialquality copper concentrate, suitable for further processing in a copper smelter. This mitigates certain environmental impacts of copper processing.