Global Commodity Mining Chemicals Summary

Global Commodity Mining Chemicals Summary

China is a world center for collectors accounting for more than 50% of world manufacturing capacity for sulphide collectors.


China is a world center for collectors accounting for more than 50% of world manufacturing capacity for sulphide collectors.
Due to low cost and familiarity, commodity reagents (flotation reagents (e.g., frothers and collectors), flocculants, solvent extractants, flocculants and dewatering aids- water & wastewater treatment chemicals), continue to dominate the mining chemicals market. These categories represent the largest (USD 27.90 billion by 2020) and most important commodity chemicals used in the mineral processing industry. Specialty reagents account for less than 5% of the sulfide collector market although its project to reach - $4.3 Billion by 2019 according to the latest mining chemical market research. 

Chinese manufactured mining chemical products are currently available globally, either through mining chemical distributors or as repackaged and resold through some of the established brands. There’s variation in terms of quality by various traders and distributors. We have covered the 3 most prevalent scams in China . Case studies can be found here. 
In this post, we will outline some of the most widely traded and used mining chemicals.


Acetic Acid: Additive in industrial explosives
Sodium Nitrate: Initiator in industrial explosives
Sodium Nitrite: Initiator in industrial explosives
Sodium Perchlorate: Initiator in industrial explosives
AN Prills : base in industrial explosives


There are many possible ways of categorizing sulfide collectors; e.g. copper collectors, lead collectors, soluble collectors, oily collectors, thiol collectors, etc.The terms "collector" and "promoter" are often used synonymously. Other reagents, which assist the adsorption of a collector on the mineral surface, are referred to as "activators", and their use is also discussed below.


Most commonly used Xanthate in the flotation process in mining:
1- Potassium Amyl Xanthate (PAX): Strong, unselective collector
2- Sodium Ethyl Xanthate (SEX): Weak, highly selective collector
3- Sodium Isobutyl Xanthate (SIBX): Good general-purpose collector
4- Sodium Isopropyl Xanthate (SIPX): Selective collector with a higher recovery than SEX

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Mtp’s are effective copper collectors in acid circuits and to improve gold recovery
Sodium diisobutyl monothiophosphate: is used in the selective flotation of gold from primary gold ores or improve gold yields in base metal sulphide flotation circuits in alkaline circuits.
Sodium dicresyl monothiophosphate: used as an acid flotation circuit sulphide collector. It is very selective against sulphides of iron.
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Available as water-soluble salts that exhibit a wide range of properties with respect to selectivity and froth character. Dithiophosphates are effective in alkaline flotation circuits and are more selective than xanthates.

  • Ammonium Dibutyl Dithiophosphate: improved selectivity in the flotation of your copper-lead sulphides especially when used in synergy with some xanthates.
  • Sodium Dibutyl Dithiophosphate: flotation of nickel and copper sulphides and is often used together with xanthates.
  • Sodium Diethyl Dithiophosphate: flotation of zinc, copper, nickel, silver and gold. It is best were high selectivity is need due to the presence of numerous activated species at the same time.
  • Sodium Diisopropyl Dithiophosphate: used for flotation of sphalerite especially in ores with pyrite. It is also used to recover copper, nickel, gold, silver and zinc.
  • Sodium Di-Sec-Butyl Dithiophosphate: good collector gold and base metals.
  • Sodium Diisoamyl Dithiophosphate: used in the zinc flotation circuits mostly in synergy with a xanthate.
  • Sodium Diisobutyl Dithiophosphate: Generally used in the as a collector in copper, nickel and activated zinc minerals and also gives improved precious metal yields.
  • Sodium dicresyl dithiophosphate: secondary collector in lead-copper sulphide flotation.

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Frothers were among the first reagents developed for mineral concentration by froth flotation; they remain a critical part of the suite of reagents used today. As a class, they are relatively low molecular weight organic compounds containing oxygen bound to carbon. They must have the property of generating a froth that is capable of supporting and enriching a mineral.
Kemcore supplies the following commodity frothers:

  •  MIBC (Methyl Isobutyl Carbinol) – Commodity Frother: A well known, widely used, weak frother, which produces a brittle froth. It has found considerable application in base metal flotation. Especially suited to the sulphide ores of lead and zinc at fine particle sizes and high throughputs. It is also used successfully in coal processing.
  • Pine oil: became the dominant natural oil frother, because of its greater availability in the western world. Essentially all the pine growing countries such as Canada, USA, Finland, China, etc., have supplied different grades of pine oils at one time or another.

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In addition to collectors and frothers, a large number of other reagents usually referred to as "Modifying agents" are used in the flotation of sulfide ores. This is especially true in the case of complex ores, where two or more valuable minerals have to be separated from each other, e.g. Pb/Zn ores, Cu/Zn ores Cu/Pb/Zn ores, Cu/Mo ores, Cu/Ni ores etc.

These modifying agents cover a variety of functions; for example, pH modifiers, depressants, activators and dispersants.


Most minerals exhibit an optimum pH range for a given collector. While some minerals can often be floated at the natural pH of the ores, in most cases the pH has to be adjusted for maximum recovery and selectivity. The most commonly used reagents for alkaline circuits are lime and soda ash.

For acid circuit flotation, the most commonly used reagent is sulfuric acid. These three modifiers are generally the most cost-effective. Other pH modifiers are also used occasionally when difficult separations are involved.


  • Sodium Cyanide /NaCN: Strong sulphide depressant for iron and zinc sulphides (e.g. pyrite, pyrrhotite, marcasite, arsenopyrite, sphalerite).
  • Caustic soda/ Sodium Hydroxide /NaOH : Used to raise pH.
  • SODA ASH/Sodium Carbonate / Na2CO3 : Used to raise pH
  • Sulphuric Acid / H2SO4 : Used when flotation needs to be at a lower pH.

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The principal ones used and their typical applications are as follows:

  • Sodium Cyanide: Depression of iron sulfide minerals such as pyrite, pyrrhotite and arsenopyrite. Depression of Zn minerals during Pb flotation from Pb/Zn ores.
  • Sodium Ferro cyanide: Depression of Cu and Fe sulfide in Cu/Mo separation.
  • Zinc Sulfate: Used alone, or in combination with cyanide, for depression of Zn minerals in the flotation of Pb/Zn, Cu/Zn, and Cu/Pb/Zn ores.
  • Sodium Metabisulphite/SMBS: Depression of Zn sulphide (sphalerite) and Fe sulphide (e.g. pyrite, pyrrhotite) minerals.
  • Hydrate Lime: Depressant for pyrite during copper and zinc flotation and in other sulphide ores where pyrite is a problem.
  • Citric Acid: Organic Acid gangue depressant for ores containing oxide minerals
    Sodium sulfide & Hydrosulfide (NaHS): Used for the depression of Cu and Fe sulfide minerals in Cu/Mo separation.
  • Nokes Reagent: Used for the depression of Cu and Fe sulfide minerals in Cu/Mo separation.
  • DETA (Diethylene triamine): Used for the depression of pyrrhotite in Cu/Ni ores.
  • Permanganates & other oxidizing agents: Can be useful in the separation of pyrite from arsenopyrite
  • Yellow Dextrin, Starches: Used in the depression of weathered silicates and carbonaceous matter.
  • Carboxymethyl cellulose /CMC: Used in the depression of magnesium silicates such as talc and pyroxene. Especially useful in the flotation of PGM and Ni ores.
  • Guar gum: Depression of silicate gangue (e.g. talc, serpentine, lizardite, antigorite).

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Certain minerals do not float well with the use of only a collector, but require prior activation.The most commonly used activators are:

  • Copper Sulphate /CuSO4: Activation of Zn sulfide and Fe sulfide minerals such as pyrite and pyrrhotite when the latter contain values such as Au, Ni and PGM elements.
  • Lead (Pb) Nitrate or 
Pb Acetate: Used for the activation of antimony sulfide minerals such as stibnite and to reactivate copper sulphides depressed with cyanide.
  • Sodium Sulphide (Na2S) /Sodium Hydrosulphide (NaHS): Commonly used prior to collector addition for the activation of Cu, Pb, and Zn minerals. The choice of whether to use Na2S or NaHS depends on the pH required in flotation, as Na2S is more alkaline and also, whichever works best (test to verify). Typically made up to 15-25 % solution strength.
  • NaCN/ Sodium Cyanide: Acts as a surface cleaning agent or "activator" to improve the flotation of PbS.
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Many ores contain significant quantities of clay minerals and other "primary slimes". These can have an adverse effect on flotation metallurgy. This can be due to a combination of factors such as, (a) increasing pulp viscosity, which adversely affects air bubble distribution, and froth drainage/mobility; (b) slimes can form a coating on the surface of valuable minerals thereby inhibiting their flotation.
The usual practice for minimizing the aforementioned effect of "slimes" is to conduct the flotation at lower percent solids to reduce the pulp viscosity. However, this also reduces the effective residence time in the flotation circuit. Consequently the use of both inorganic and organic dispersing and viscosity reducing agents is commonly practiced. Sodium silicate, soda ash, various poly- phosphate.


Mining water treatment now constitute one of the largest application segments in the mining industry. Usage of Chemicals in Water & wastewater treatment is expected to increase due to stringent environmental regulations implemented by regulatory authorities such as the European Commission and the EPA to reduce water pollution caused by mining activities.


At various stages of mineral processing it is necessary to separate aqueous mineral suspensions into their component solid and liquid phases. Typical examples of this are thickening of flotation concentrates, recovery of pregnant leach liquors, and dewatering of tailings. In many cases, the mineral particles settle out of suspension very slowly, so that the liquid-solid separation is slow and incomplete. To improve the settling rate, high molecular weight organic polymers (flocculants) are used to aggregate the suspended particles and cause the efficient separation of the solids from the aqueous suspending medium.


Anionic flocculants have very wide application in the mining industry. They are principally used for thickening ore pulps and concentrates, such as coal tailings, copper, lead, and zinc concentrates and tailings, diamond and phosphate slimes, and bauxite red muds. Normal dosage rates for these applications are in the range 2.5-50 g/t.


Nonionic flocculants are principally used in the thickening of ore pulps and concentrates, especially iron ore slimes, and gold flotation tailings. They are particularly effective in acidic media such as pregnant uranium leach liquors. Typical dosage rates are 1-50 g/t. Nonionic flocculants are also used as dewatering aids in vacuum and pressure filtration, and centrifugation, usually at dosage rates of 5-250 g/t.


Cationic flocculants are chiefly used for thickening of coal refuse, iron ore slimes, and mineral concentrates. Dosage rates in these applications usually range from 25-250 g/t. Cationic flocculants are efficient clarification agents for surface mine run-off water. In this case, typical doses are 5-50 g/t.


• Aluminum Chlorohydrate
• Perchloric Acid
• Polyaluminium Chloride
• Calcium Hypochlorite /Chlorine tablet HTH
• Ferric chloride hexahydrate
• Activated carbon
• Glycolic Acid Solution 70% Tech Grade
• Sodium percarbonate coated
• Ferric / Non ferric aluminium sulphate
• Boric Acid 99%

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Solvent extraction of metals from aqueous media. Solvent extraction (SX) is a hydrometallurgical process for the separation, purification and concentration of metal ions in solution. In its simplest form the process consists of two stages:

• Extraction – The metal is selectively transferred from the aqueous phase to the solvent.
• Stripping – The metal is transferred from the loaded solvent to the aqueous phase.


  • Activated Carbon
: Gold extraction via adsorption of gold cyanide solution
  • Caustic Soda /NaOH /(Liquor & Pearl): Elution stripping of gold adsorbed onto activated carbon
  • Ferrous Sulphate
: Cyanide detoxification in gold mining process
  • Hydrochloric Acid
: Pre-elution treatment of activated carbon in gold mining
  • Lead Nitrate
: Accelerator in gold cyanidation
  • Sodium Bisulphite (SBS)
: Cyanide detoxification in gold mining
  • Sodium Chlorate
: Oxidant in uranium extraction
  • Sodium Cyanide
: Gold extraction using cyanidation heap leach, CIP or CIL processes
  • Sodium Metabisulphite (SMBS): Cyanide detoxification in gold mining
  • Sulphuric Acid
: Lixiviant for uranium and nickel. Cyanide destruction in gold mining

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Transportation and environment

Since most mining chemicals are hazardous, shipping companies impose surcharges over and above general cargo shipping rates in handling of these chemicals. Surcharges vary from $300 -$1000 per container load. As a result logistics can account for at least 15-20% of the total cost. Depending on the mine site location, the bulk contributor to the logistics cost is the high rates of inland transportation. Other factors include warehousing costs, supply chain costs, third-party managed inventory costs, etc.


Mining reagent chemicals are available in steel or plastic drums, totes, and in IBC drums. Most chemicals are shipped as powdered or pellet incase of Xanthate. Some acids are shipped in aqueous /diluted form of 30% to 98% in the case of sulphuric acid. The safest packaging for liquid chemical is either 200L drums or IBC container. Based on experience, smaller kegs, 30kg drums have a tendency to leak during shipment especially where inland transportation is involved. All packages should be UN rated and carry an inspection certificate to guarantee sea worthiness.

Research samples

Samples are available free of charge in 50ml to 1L or 300-500g quantities for investigative purposes only. Kemcore's policy on shipping charges is that they’re to be borne by the researcher or testing lab requesting such a samples.
Please contact use this link for sample requests.


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