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Growth of metallic iron particles during coal-based reduction of a rare-earths-bearing iron ore

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2013, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 74-78

Gao, Peng; Sun, Yongsheng; Ren, Duozhen; Han, Yuexin


Coal-based reduction followed by magnetic separation is an innovative technology used in processing refractory iron ores. Given that size is essential to the separation of the metallic iron from the gangue, the morphology of metallic iron particles and their evolution during coal-based reduction are investigated in the present work. The size of the metallic iron particle increased from 128.76 μm to 565.70 μm when the reduction time increased from 20 min to 60 min at 1,225° C and C/O (i.e., the amount of coal addition in terms of the gram-atomic ratio of the fixed carbon in the coal added to the combined oxygen in iron oxides) of 2.5. Based on our microstructural and metallographic analysis, the iron ore reduction process can be divided into three stages: (1) metallic iron particle formation, (2) iron oxide reduction and metallic iron assembly and (3) metallic iron particle growth. Almost all iron oxides are reduced to metallic iron in the second stage. These newborn metallic iron particles are energetically active and able to assemble and grow, and are eventually separated from the gangue. The large metallic iron particles benefit the subsequent magnetic separation process.