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Role of water chemistry in the selective flocculation and dispersion of iron ore

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2015, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 69-77

Haselhuhn, H.J.; Kawatra, S.K.

Fine-grained hematite ore can be concentrated by the process of selective flocculation and dispersion, which relies on proper reagent selection and control of water chemistry. While many previous studies have been performed analyzing the effects of different reagents on this process in a laboratory environment, this paper focuses on investigating the water chemistry within the process in a pilot-scale continuous deslime thickener.
  The pH, sodium concentration, calcium concentration and magnesium concentration were varied to determine their effects on the iron concentrate grade and recovery, and the phosphorus concentrate grade and rejection in the pilotscale selective deslime thickener. The ideal pH for the iron grade and recovery of the process using a starch selective flocculant was found to be 10.5. Phosphorus rejection, however, was increased at lower pH values. Minimization of sodium concentration was shown to improve iron grade, iron recovery and phosphorus rejection. Calcium acted as a nonselective flocculant showing higher iron recovery, lower iron grade and lower phosphorus rejection with increasing concentration. Conclusions could not be drawn from the experiments that varied magnesium concentration.
  The zeta potential of the solid-liquid interface of particles in each sample taken was also analyzed to show relationships between zeta potential and process performance. In all cases, a maximization of the magnitude of zeta potential correlated with increased iron grade and recovery. This supports the hypothesis that a higher level of dispersion enhances the selective flocculation and separation process.