Flotation is the most common industrial method by which valuable minerals are separated from waste rock after crushing and grinding the ore. For process control, flotation plants and devices are equipped with conventional and specialized sensors. However, certain variables are left to the visual observation of the operator, such as the color of the froth and the size of the bubbles in the froth. The ChaCo-Project (EU-Project 24931) was launched in November 1997. In this project a measuring station was built at the Pyhasalmi flotation plant. The system includes an RGB camera and a spectral color measuring instrument for the color inspection of the flotation. The RGB camera or visible spectral range is also measured to compare the operators' comments on the color of the froth relating to the sphalerite concentration and the process balance. Different dried mineral (sphalerite) ratios were studied with iron pyrite to find out about the minerals' typical spectral features. The correlation between sphalerite spectral reflectance and sphalerite concentration over various wavelengths are used to select the proper camera system with filters or to compare the results with the color information from the RGB camera. Various machine vision candidate techniques are discussed for this application and the preprocessed information of the dried mineral colors is used and adapted to the online measuring station. Moving froth bubbles produce total reflections, disturbing the color information. Polarization filters are used and the results are reported. Also the reflectance outside the visible light is studied and reported.
Ari Siren, Ari Siren,
"Characterization of flotation color by machine vision", Proc. SPIE 3826, Polarization and Color Techniques in Industrial Inspection, (16 September 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.364313; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.364313