The purpose of this work was to analyze the requirements for the operational feasibility of flotation systems as well as the effects of the selection of flotation equipment and metal price uncertainty. A procedure based on mathematical optimization and uncertainty analysis was im- plemented to achieve this aim. The optimization included flotation and grinding stages operating under uncertainty, whereas the uncertainty analysis considered the Monte Carlo method. The results obtained indicate a small number of optimal flotation structures from the economic point of view. Considering the relationship between the economic performance and metallurgical parameters, we established that these structures exhibited favorable conditions for operating under uncertainty. Such conditions were proportional to the percentages representing each structure in the optimal set; i.e., a higher percentage of a structure implied a greater capacity to face operational and metal price changes. The set of optimal structures included configurations implementing cell banks, flotation columns, or both, indicating the influence of the flotation equipment type on the optimal structures. We also established the influence of metal price on the number of optimal structures. Therefore, the results obtained allowed us to separate the design of the flotation systems into two stages: first, a set of optimal structures exhibiting favorable conditions for facing uncertainty is determined; second, the optimal operation is established via resilience/flexibility approaches after the previous determination of the equipment design parameters.

Keywords: design; flotation systems; uncertainty analysis; selection of equipment; grinding