Influence of the conditioning in reducing medium on the hydrophobicity of samples of pyrite and hematite

ABSTRACT The pyrite surface oxidation is a serious problem in the mining industry, since it decreases its hydrophobicity turning it difficult to float or leading to a high collector consumption. In this study, the products of the reaction between the Fe2+ and HS-, formed on the surface of oxidized pyrite and hematite, were studied. The conditions for the formation of a hydrophobic layer on the surface of these minerals were also investigated. The pH influence of sodium hydrosulphide (NaHS) solutions was evaluated in order to achieve a suitable Eh-pH condition for the formation of hydrophobic sulfur compounds on mineral surfaces. Measurements of contact angle, X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy/dispersive energy spectroscopy (SEM/EDS) and Raman spectroscopy were the analytical techniques used to verify the nature of the products formed on the surface of those minerals. The formation of elemental sulfur crystals on the hematite and oxidized pyrite surfaces was identified after the conditioning in a reducing medium, and the best result was obtained at pH 8.0 during 96 hours with a 0.3 M NaHS solution for the two samples analyzed.