chemistry

Africa is home to many natural resources which makes it essential that we mine and process these effectively.

Due to the hazardous classification of xanthate collectors and difficulties with storage, handling and disposal, mining companies have been facing increasingly difficult xanthate logistics challenges.

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Clariant, an innovative speciality chemicals company is responding to these challenges by rolling out speciality solutions in copper, platinum and gold base metal mining sectors, with the implementation of safer, better alternatives to xanthate collectors.

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They have introduced and tested HOSTAFLOT 7800, as a Xanthate Replacement collector that allows operators to discontinue the use of sodium isopropyl xanthate and potassium amyl xanthate.

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Why should the mining industry move away from Xanthates?

Xanthates are a group of chemicals typically used in sulphide flotation in mining applications.

They are classified as liable to spontaneous combustion and they pose several hazards due to their nature, the vast quantities used in the mining process and the harsh South African climate conditions under which they are used.

Common xanthate products are sodium ethyl xanthate (SEX), sodium isopropyl xanthate (SIPX), sodium isobutyl xanthate (SIBX) and potassium amyl xanthate (PAX).

Considerable literature also exists on the effects of CS2 with studies conducted in various countries show the dangers of exposure to human health. In addition, animal studies indicate xanthates are linked to chronic damage to the liver and neurological system after long-term elevated exposure.

Through collaboration with customers, Clariant developed alternatives with high copper flotation performance and safer handling and disposal solutions for mines, lowering capital expenditure and providing a longer shelf life than solid xanthate.

A comparative study was conducted:

Last year, Clariant opened a laboratory in South Africa, geared to serve as a regional hub for mining operators in Africa.

Dries Lategan, Head of Mining Sub-Sahara Africa at Clariant, is excited about the company’s potential impact on mining in Africa.

“Clariant’s state-of- the-art laboratory in South Africa has allowed unprecedented access to state-of-the-art testing services which supports mining operators bespoke, evidence-based analyses of the viability of prospective sites – crucially, before the major investment is made.

“This has far-reaching consequences for prospective operators’ future success and will save the African industry billions in the process,” he said.

Research and testing to discover mechanisms that would improve the flotation performance of sulphide minerals have been conducted as a result.

The study demonstrated that the addition of Clariant products to high-silicate ore flotation achieved a recovery of 80% for gold, and increased copper recovery to 90.3%.

“As a leader in specialty chemicals, we’re dedicated to making African mines more successful by building bespoke customer experiences for local operators.

“This solution has huge implications for mining operators’ bottom lines, while also being friendlier to the environment, because of reduced reagent consumption.

“We aim to make a positive impact in Africa’s mining industry through extensive research aimed at reducing the challenges that mining operators face continuously in Africa,” concludes Lategan.