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The History of Flotation (Blowing Bubbles for Profit)
CIM ACADEMY. Nesset J. 12/16/21; 346584 Topic: Innovation & Technology
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It is just 120 years since the practice of blowing small bubbles into a mixture of ground ore and water revolutionized the mining industry, resulting in uneconomic deposits becoming highly-profitable mines and the establishment of fully-integrated mining companies that are still with us today. Along with this came the inevitable lawsuits over this new technology called “froth flotation”. To this day the viability of many mining projects rests largely with the ability of flotation to effectively capture the valuable minerals and reject waste. Remarkably, bubble behaviour in flotation, the key to the success of the technology, was not well understood until the 1990’s with the advent of new sensor technologies that can be brought directly into the operating plants. This presentation will review the historical developments of flotation, from Europe through Australia and North and South America highlighting Canadian milestones and achievements and attempt to put the significance of the flotation technology into an historical perspective.
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