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Impact of process water on the surface properties of magnetite as measured by the zeta potential and through leaching experiments

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2012, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 199-206

Westerstrand, M.; Fredriksson, A.; Holmgren, A.; Öhlander, B.


The processes involved in the concentration of magnetite ore with process water as the aqueous medium can have a strong influence on the surface properties of the magnetite particles. In this study, different leaching methods, as well as zeta potential measurements, were used to examine the major easily accessible ions on the particle surfaces and their effect on the surface charge. The results show that the enrichment of elements on the surface of the particles appears early in the refinement process. Ca was enriched up to 15 times and Si up to 50 times compared to what pore water alone would have given. The leaching experiments also showed that the addition of water glass increased the surface enrichment of Si and that the collector might hinder desorption of Ca. An alkali leaching method was evaluated, which showed that Si was much more enriched than S and Cl. Zeta potential measurements on synthetic magnetite particles showed that process water resulted in zeta potentials different from the potentials measured for these particles in aqueous calcium and silicate solutions. Therefore, it is important to consider the complexity of the process water when making predictions about the properties of the particle surfaces in the final magnetite concentrate, which most studies do not. Zeta potential measurements were also used to rule out a strong influence from organic matter in the process water on the magnetite zeta potential.