Influence of muscovite in the flotation of pyrite and arsenopyrite

Barrick Gold Corporation has a sub-economic refractory gold ore body with content of muscovite. Muscovite is a hydrophilic, platy micaceous mineral, classified as a phyllosilicate. Previous research identified that micas and clays have a deleterious effect on the flotation of sulfide minerals. The presence of muscovite is associated with increase in pulp viscosity, formation of slime coatings and high recovery of muscovite through entrainment (Wang et al. (2015), Forbes et al. (2014), Ndlovu, Farrokhpay, & Bradshaw (2013), Connelly (2011); He et al. (2009)). Most previous studies relating to the effect of mica and clays on sulfide minerals were conducted using copper ores. The effect of the presence of muscovite on the flotation of pyritic gold-bearing minerals is not well understood. This work investigates the flotation behaviour of muscovite and its effect on pyrite and arsenopyrite floatability at laboratory-scale using a synthetic sample consisting of pyrite, arsenopyrite, quartz (silica) and muscovite. The objective is to provide to Barrick a mechanism of recovery of muscovite and to quantify its deleterious effects in gold bearing pyrites. The experimental program applied a Central Composite Rotatable Design (CCRD) to quantify and model the effect of muscovite in the flotation of gold-bearing pyritic minerals and the results are discussed in terms of the floatability of pyrite, the degree of entrainment and the viscosity of the pulp. It is expected that this work could clarify if the effective removal of muscovite from the flotation feed will bring a capital benefit to the flotation circuit of Barrick.


Erica holds a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering attained from the University of Minas Gerais and has more than ten years process engineering experience of various processes in gold, copper, nickel and iron ore. She is a MPhil in Mineral Technology by the same university. Erica has worked for various engineering consultancy companies, as process engineer, in Brazil and Australia, including GRD Minproc, Ausenco, Arccon and CPC Engineering. She is currently a PhD candidate, sponsored by Barrick, at JKMRC under the supervision of Cathy Evans, Kym Runge, Emmy Manlapig and Chris Fountain.

Erica is passionate about nature and abstract modern art. She has produced mixed media collage-mosaic works for JKMRC and the Sustainable Minerals Institute, which are exhibited in Reception. As an artist, she is very popular for her multicolour watercolour elephants. In 2016 she discover that her favourite sport is cricket and is a supporter of the Brisbane Heat.