Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMSs), which were formed by deposition of precipitates from hydrothermal fluids vented from seafloor, has been expected as one of unconventional mineral resources on deep seafloors in the oceans. The authors have proposed the concept of seafloor mineral processing for SMS mining, where valuable minerals contained in SMS ores are separated on seafloor while gangue minerals are disposed on seafloor in appropriate ways. To confirm the applicability of column flotation, which is one of conventional mineral processing methods, to seafloor mineral processing, the authors carried out experiments simulating column flotation under the pressure conditions corresponding to the water depths down to 1000m in maximum using ore samples containing copper, iron, zinc and lead. In the experiments, formation of fine bubbles suitable to flotation and overflow of froth layer were observed at high pressures. The contents of copper and zinc in the concentrates recovered in the experiments at 1MPa were higher than those in the feed ores while the contents of silicon and calcium in the concentrates were lower than those in the feed ores. These results suggest that column flotation would be applicable to seafloor mineral processing.

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