principle of froth floatation ?
This method is based on the principle that the ore particles are preferentially wetted by oil whereas gangue particles are preferentially wetted by water. This method is used for the concentration of sulphide ores.
Froth flotation commences by comminution (that is, crushing and grinding), which is used to increase the surface area of the ore for subsequent processing and break the rocks into the desired mineral and gangue in a process known as liberation, which then has to be separated from the desired mineral. The ore is ground into a fine powder and mixed with water to form a slurry. The desired mineral is rendered hydrophobic by the addition of a surfactant or collector chemical. The particular chemical depends on which mineral is being refined. As an example, pine oil is used to extract copper (see copper extraction). This slurry (more properly called the pulp) of hydrophobic mineral-bearing ore and hydrophilic gangue is then introduced to a water bath which is aerated, creating bubbles. The hydrophobic grains of mineral-bearing ore escape the water by attaching to the air bubbles, which rise to the surface, forming a foam or a scum (more properly called a froth). The froth is removed and the concentrated mineral is further refined.