Modelling for froth flotation control: A Review

Quintanilla, P., Neethling, S. J., & Brito-Parada, P. R. (2020). Modelling for froth flotation control: A review. Minerals Engineering, 106718.


This paper by Paulina Quintanilla, Stephen Neethling and Pablo Brito-Parada of Imperial College provides an up to date review of the state of the art in flotation modelling. The paper has over 120 references and covers empirical, phenomenological and hybrid models. PID, fuzzy logic and neural networks are mentioned but the paper concentrates on models for use in MPC. The authors conclude that appropriate models for the froth phase and more complex models for the phase phrase are required.

Empirical models are somewhat off-handedly rejected as “the presence of disturbances that continuously change the process conditions means that the process can move beyond the conditions over which the models were originally calibrated. Purely empirical models thus typically perform badly when extrapolating to predict performance”. My own experience id that empirical linear models can do a good job of rejecting measured disturbances and that complex first principle models are not justified from a benefits perspective. This could of course also be sour grapes, as the authors do not cite any of my papers! In all seriousness, this is an important debate and one that I hope practitioners in the field will have with the academics providing fine research outputs.