The depression of pyrite in sulfide flotation by two types of polysaccharides, CMC and guar, was investigated using micro-flotation tests, zeta potential measurements and adsorption tests. Environmentally and from an occupational safety standpoint - this would be a better processing option than cyanide. The range of variables tested included molecular weight of guar, degree of substitution of CMC, pH and the concentration of calcium ions in the flotation process water. The guar gums depressed pyrite considerably even at low dosages. An optimum dosage of 10 ppm was recommended. The CMC's were not as effective as the guar gums, and required much higher dosages to achieve pyrite depression. Within the range of CMC's tested, lower degree of substitution was more effective than high degree of substitution. This was presumably due to lower electrostatic repulsion between the negatively charged CMC and pyrite. When calcium ions were introduced with CMC's, the adsorption of the CMC was considerably enhanced. No such effect was observed for guar gums. Both CMC and guar gums demonstrated Langmuirian behavior in their adsorption isotherms. Two different adsorption mechanisms were displayed. The guar gum adsorption was attributed to hydrogen bonding and Bronsted acid-base interaction. The CMC was considered to occur through electrostatic interaction in the presence of calcium ions, and Bronsted acid-base interaction depending on pH. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.