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Evaluation of beneficiation options for recovery of ultrafine thermal coal

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing , 2016, Vol. 33, No. 3, pp. 116-125

Menéndez, M.; Gent, M.R.; Riesgo, P.; Suarez, A.


Recent requirements to reduce thermal coal plant emissions, and ultrafine coal?s tendency to produce these emissions due to its typically high ash and moisture contents have limited the use of ultrafine coal. Ultrafine coal in beneficiation plants are usually either disposed of in tailing ponds at a loss in combustible material or disposed of by blending with coarser higher-grade products, resulting in a reduction in marketed product quality. A study of the options for processing ultrafine coal, consisting of < 200 μm hydrocyclone overflow, with 38.8 percent ash content is presented here. Ultrafine coal was processed based on 200-μm sieve bend and 10-μm hydrocyclone classifications, enhanced gravity separation (EGS) and froth flotation concentration as well as combinations of these. Yield, combustible material recovery (CMR) and product humidity were evaluated as test results.
  Depending on the processing applied, product ash content could be reduced up to 49.7 percent, and up to 95.8 percent CMR of the actual run of mill feed could be attained. All of the processing options analyzed could reduce produced thermal electric plant emissions due to ash and moisture from 22 to 38 percent of the actual unprocessed ultrafine coal product.
  Froth flotation was found to be the optimal process, yielding a product with the lowest ash content attained of 19.5 percent and CMR of 92.3 percent. Being the most versatile of the processes evaluated, it is capable of producing coal with varied ash contents but is subject to potential variations in coal flotability. The most complicated of the processing options, a combined sieve bend recovery of the > 200 μm fraction and EGS processing of the 10 to 200 μm fraction was found to be the next best option, attaining a combined 90.1 percent CMR and 25.0 percent ash content.