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flotation process

flotation process, in mineral treatment and mining, process for concentrating the metal-bearing mineral in an ore. Crude ore is ground to a fine powder and mixed with water, frothing reagents, and collecting reagents. When air is blown through the mixture, mineral particles cling to the bubbles, which rise to form a froth on the surface. The waste material (gangue) settles to the bottom. The froth is skimmed off, and the water and chemicals are distilled or otherwise removed, leaving a clean concentrate. The process, also called the froth-flotation process, is used for a number of minerals, especially silver.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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