Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Mining Engineering (MSMIE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Mining Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Tao


Froth flotation is the most efficient method for phosphate separation, which is a physic-chemical separation process based on the difference of surface properties between the valuable minerals and unwanted gangue minerals. However, the presence of clay slimes in the slurry after grinding consumes a large amount of reagents, decreases the collision probability between bubbles and minerals, prevents phosphate particle attachment to air bubbles, and thus considerably reduces flotation recovery and concentrate grade. Georgia Pacific Chemical, LLC has recently developed novel depressants, i.e., clay binders, which are a series of low molecular weight specialty polymers to help improve phosphate flotation performance by selectively agglomerating and depressing clay particles, thus lowering their surface area and reducing the adsorption of surfactants.

This thesis addresses the effects of clay binders on phosphate flotation performance and their adsorption behavior on different minerals in a sedimentary phosphate ore. Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation technique (QCM-D) was used to study adsorption characteristics of clay binders and batch flotation tests were performed under different conditions to investigate phosphate flotation performance. The experimental results have shown that clay binders significantly improved phosphate flotation selectivity and reduced the dosages of collector and sodium silicate used as dispersant in the industry.