Ilmenite Mineral's Recovery from Beach Sand Tailings
The mineral ilmenite is the major source of rutile for industrial use and is of interest to paint and fertiliser industries. Enormous unutilised tailing dams lie on the eastern coast of the South Africa. Although covered by a simulation of the original indigenous vegetation, these tailings are still ilmenite bearing and of economic value. Tailings emanating from beach sand mineral slimes dams of the Kwazulu-Natal area (South Africa) have been processed. Screening, flotation, spiral concentration and magnetic separation methods were used either separately or successively. The present work sheds light on alternative routes for the extraction of the ilmenite, from these tailings. It moreover points out the usefulness of the Mössbauer spectroscopy in the mineral processing product monitoring. Tailings from the beach sands were used in the present study after the economic industrial minerals zirconia, ilmenite and rutile had been extracted in previous mining operations. About 61% natural ilmenite recovery was observed in the flotation concentrate of a Humphrey Spiral concentrate while a 62% recovery of hematite was found in the flotation tailings. The combination of screening, spiral concentration and magnetic separation, and flotation yielded a product with the highest ilmenite and hematite concentration being 71% and 19%, respectively. A natural ilmenite mineral, containing 87% ilmenite and 13% hematite, could be produced and extracted from the tailings of the flotation process, collected subsequently to the spiral concentration and the initial screening.
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