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Flotation separation of pyrite and chalcopyrite with potassium permanganate as a depressant

Qinbo Cao, Haiyu Zhang, Yan Yan, Yanjun Li, and Dianwen Liu

Faculty of Land Resources Engineering, Kunming University of Science and Technology, Kunming, People’s Republic of China



Received: 31 July 2023  Accepted: 6 November 2023


The separation of chalcopyrite and pyite is not fully solved, and thus more efficient depressants are still needed in industry. This paper used potassium permanganate (KMnO4) as a pyrite depressant to separate pyrite from chalcopyrite. Flotation and contact angle results indicated that pyrite could be depressed by KMnO4 at pH 7, while KMnO4-treated chalcopyrite could be floated by sodium ethylxanthate. For the pyrite-chalcopyrite mixture, the recovery of chalcopyrite was nearly 95% and that of pyrite was less than 15% when minerals were reacted with 4 × 10−4 KMnO4 for 3 min. The KMnO4-treatment raised the zeta potential of pyrite at pH 7, which may generate oxidized species on the pyrite surface. The oxidation products on the pyrite surface were FeO, FeOOH, and Fe2(SO4)3 as determined by XPS analyses. These oxidation products were well coated on the pyrite surface, which dramatically lowers the hydrophobicity of pyrite. In contrast, in the case of chalcopyrite, KMnO4 treatment did not generate new oxidation components on its surface, causing the chalcopyrite surface to remain hydrophobic and allowing the flotation of chalcopyrite by air bubbles. Thus, pyrite could be efficiently separated from chalcopyrite using KMnO4 as a depressant.

Keywords: Potassium permanganate; Depressant; Chalcopyrite; Pyrite

Full paper is available at

DOI: 10.1007/s11696-023-03203-6


Chemical Papers 78 (3) 1761–1773 (2024)

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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