AFM Image Analysis of the Adsorption of Xanthate and Dialkyl Dithiophosphate on Chalcocite

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Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has been applied to study the adsorption morphology of various collectors, i.e., potassium ethyl xanthate (KEX) and potassium amyl xanthate (PAX) and Cytec Aerofloat 238 (sodium dibutyl dithiophosphate), on chalcocite in situ in aqueous solutions. The AFM images show that all these collectors adsorb strongly on chalcocite. Xanthate adsorbs mainly in the form of insoluble cuprous xanthate (CuX), which binds strongly with the mineral surface without being removed by flushing with ethanol alcohol. This xanthate/chalcocite adsorption mechanism is very similar to the one obtained with the xanthate/bornite system; while it is different from the one of the xanthate/chalcopyrite systems, for which oily dixanthogen is the main adsorption product on chalcopyrite surface. On the other hand, dibutyl dithiophosphate adsorbs on chalcocite in the form of hydrophobic patches, which can be removed by rinsing with ethanol alcohol. AFM images show that the adsorption of collectors increases with increasing adsorption time and collectors’ concentration. In addition, increasing the solution pH to 10 does not prevent the adsorption of xanthate and Aerofloat 238 on chalcocite and the result is in line with the fact that chalcocite floats well in a wide pH range up to 12 with xanthate and dialkyl dithiophosphate being used as collectors. The blending collectors study shows that xanthate and dialkyl dithiophosphate can co-adsorb with both insoluble cuprous xanthate and oily Cu(DTP)2 (Cu dibutyl dithiophosphate) on a chalcocite surface. The present study helps to clarify the flotation mechanism of chalcocite in industry practice using xanthate and dialkyl dithiophosphate as collectors.

Zhang, J.; Zhang, W. AFM Image Analysis of the Adsorption of Xanthate and Dialkyl Dithiophosphate on Chalcocite. Minerals 2022, 12, 1018.